The National Park Service (NPS) got a major boost on Wednesday with the Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 1957).

Funding provided by the bill will support an estimated 100,000 jobs, $6.5 billion in labor income and $17.5 billion in economic output per year, as well as contribute $9.6 billion to U.S. GDP. 

The national parks tell the story of our country, and this bill will go a long way in preserving them for generations to come. The national parks were once famously called America’s best idea. To preserve the rapidly shrinking American wilderness was a bold, forward-looking idea—indeed, one of our nation’s best. If you looked over the rim of the Grand Canyon or across the waters of Crater Lake today, I imagine it would look much the same as it did 100 years ago.

As vital as the national parks are to our country’s culture and history, their economic value cannot be overstated. Infrastructure and conservation projects in the national parks played a key role in boosting unemployment during the Great Depression. Now, as the travel industry begins to pull itself out of its own depression and restore its jobs base, the national parks will be a powerful economic driver.

Last year alone, spending by more than 327 million visitors delivered $41.7 billion to the economy and supported 340,500 jobs. Recent survey findings indicate Americans are more comfortable traveling by car and engaging in outdoor activities during the country's initial reopening, suggesting the national parks will be a major destination for travel and leisure in the coming months.

I applaud Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for their leadership on this important issue, and to the rest of Congress for recognizing the cultural and economic value of our beloved national parks. 

Please click here to see U.S. Travel’s statement on the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act.