Nashville, TN – On Friday, October 20th, 2020, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued a proclamation honoring U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander for his outstanding work in support of the country’s 419 national parks with the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. Spearheaded by Senator Alexander, the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law in August and represents the most significant conservation and outdoor recreation legislation in 50 years.
The bipartisan legislation will preserve federal lands and strengthen national parks for generations, including America’s most visited park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee.
“Senator Alexander’s devotion to preserving the beauty of Tennessee and protecting our natural resources across the country will have a lasting impact for generations to come,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Tennessee’s natural treasures including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are key economic drivers in Tennessee and welcome millions of visitors each year.”
“I am proud to celebrate the Great American Outdoors Act which will support conservation and outdoor recreation, and I thank Senator Alexander, one of Tennessee’s most dedicated statesmen, for his commitment to restoring our nation and our state’s irreplaceable riches, our great outdoors,” Governor Lee stated.
“The Great American Outdoors Act truly is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise truly dismal year,” said Senator Alexander. “This new law is the most important and significant conservation and outdoor recreation legislation in 50 years. It is the largest federal investment in national parks since the Eisenhower years. It’s especially welcome at a time when everyone’s all cooped up, and we want to get outdoors.”
“This law will cut in half the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks and national forests and other public lands, fixing pot holes, leaky roofs, trails, roads, visitor centers and campgrounds. For the Smokies that means substantially reducing a $224 million backlog, which is ten times the Smokies’ annual budget. I am glad to have been a part of the bipartisan parade that made this happen,” Senator Alexander stated.
The legislation provides funding for much-needed maintenance and infrastructure in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas and American Indian schools. It also permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
For Tennessee, this means significant investments in national treasures including the Great Smoky Mountains National park, the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and the Cherokee National Forest.
A seventh generation Tennessean, public servant and longstanding supporter of the American outdoors, Senator Alexander served two terms as Tennessee Governor and three terms as U.S. Senator, as well as serving as the U.S. Secretary of Education and President of the University of Tennessee. His work to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund began in the 1980s when he chaired President Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors.
The proclamation declares October 30th, 2020, as Great American Outdoors Act Day in Tennessee and was presented at a small event outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park headquarters in East Tennessee.