November 20, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, was announced as a recipient of the National Park Foundation (NPF)’s inaugural “Hero” Award for his leadership in passing the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and to honor his lifelong environmental stewardship and advocacy. The GAOA includes the Restore Our Parks Act – a bill led by Senator King – and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Permanent Funding Act. The legislative package is among the most impactful conservation laws enacted in the last century and continues Senator King’s career-long focus on conservation efforts, dating back to his work prior to running for elected office through his years as Governor and his service in the Senate. In addition to Senator King, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and NPF Board member John L. Nau III were also named inaugural recipients of the NPF Hero award.
“America’s national parks are some of our nation’s greatest treasures, which have been passed down from generation to generation for more than 100 years. Now, it’s our turn to protect these lands so our children and grandchildren so all can enjoy the magic our country has to offer,” said Senator King. “I’m honored to accept this award alongside my Restore Our Parks Act co-leaders, who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation and do our part to preserve these jewels. But the real reward will come in 100 years, long after we’re gone – when a family will stand on the top of Cadillac Mountain, or on the rim of the Grand Canyon, and make a lifelong memory. They won’t know our names, but they’ll know what we did to protect this unique American inheritance.”
“We congratulate Senator King on receiving this well-deserved award," said David MacDonald, President of Friends of Acadia. "Senator King has been a champion for Acadia and for national parks overall. We’re grateful for his leadership on many issues, but especially for his help in bringing attention and resources to national park infrastructure needs. Maine is proud to have him as our Senator and as a committed friend to parks everywhere."
"Angus King has spent a lifetime working for our most cherished outdoor spaces," said Andrew Bossie, Executive Director of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters. "First as a citizen, then as governor, and now as U.S. Senator from Maine, he's been a hero for our parks in Maine and beyond. His leadership was instrumental to the early success of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. Generations of families to come will benefit from Sen. King's love of and commitment to public lands."
Senator King is among the Senate’s loudest voices advocating for conservation. He first introduced the Restore Our Parks Act in July 2018 with Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Mark Warner (D-Va.). The bipartisan legislation will establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government collects from on and offshore energy development. In June, Senator King spoke on the floor of the Senate, urging passage of the GAOA as “a gift for our fellow Americans.” Senator King has also highlighted the economic benefit of investing in public lands. One recent study by the National Parks Service (NPS) showed that Restore Our Parks Act will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years, while another study shows that national parks generated more than $41 billion in economic activity in 2019. Senator King’s work on this legislation is the culmination of nearly 40 years of work on land conservation efforts in Maine, including helping to establish the Land for Maine’s Future program in 1987 and supporting extensive conservation projects during his time as Governor.
The Great American Outdoors Act establishes the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury not to exceed $1.9 billion each year for the next five years. In addition, the legislation will provide permanent and full funding – $900 million annually – for the LWCF without being subject to federal appropriations; the funding comes directly from the federal government’s revenues from on and offshore energy development. This builds on the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which permanently authorizes the LWCF and was signed into law last year with Senator King’s strong support.
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help protect more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts and connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history.