Great American Outdoors Act Passed in Congress
On July 22, 2020, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which protects our National Parks systems and provides funding for a backlog of repair projects, as well as funding for the long-term maintenance of these treasured parks. The bill creates a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund for this purpose, with the added benefit of putting tens of thousands of people back to work repairing and maintaining these parks.
“National parks embrace a very large part of the totality of the biodiversity of North America,” E.O. Wilson said. In addition to their natural beauty and important role in connecting people with the natural world, national parks are “ready-made laboratories” for studying biodiversity. They allow scientists to study, address and plan for a litany of environmental issues like climate change, urban encroachment, invasive species, and species decline and extinction.
“Our national parks, our parks generally, but especially our national parks in this country are logical centers for both scientific research and education for many domains of science, but especially and critically for biodiversity and conservation of the living part of the environment,” Wilson said.
The good news is, caring for Earth’s living environment, including the species and ecosystems within parks, is an important foundation for addressing pressing concerns about the physical environment, including climate change, pollution, and the shortage of fresh water. “If we save the living environment of Earth, we will also save the physical, nonliving environment, because each depends on the other,” says Wilson.
At a time when we are all leaning forward with renewed awareness that human fate is dependent in the long and short term on the care and maintenance of our planet, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Half-Earth Project celebrates the Great American Outdoors Act as a welcome and important step towards a Half-Earth future.