SAN FRANCISCO — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland traveled to Yosemite National Park this weekend as part of a month-long tour to celebrate the historic investments from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in our national parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools. Throughout the month of August, Interior Department leaders will span throughout the nation to highlight how these investments are addressing long-deferred maintenance projects.
The GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (GAOA LRF) to provide deferred maintenance and repairs at critical facilities on public lands and at BIE-funded schools. At no additional cost to taxpayers, the GAOA LRF provides $1.6 billion per year for projects at recreation facilities, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools, and other historic structures. Other projects increase public access by improving accessibility features, and restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges and parking areas. GAOA’s LRF funding sunsets after fiscal year 2025 and would need to be reauthorized by Congress to continue the efforts underway to address significant infrastructure needs across public lands.
In Yosemite National Park, an approximately $120 million GAOA LRF investment will help the park address significant deferred maintenance needs. Two projects will deliver a better experience for visitors, increased accessibility, and safer working conditions for park staff.
Secretary Haaland toured the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, the park’s largest campground that has historically supported up to 2,000 visitors a day, which was originally constructed in the 1930s. Through GAOA LRF funding, the park is replacing the water system and damaged campsite furnishings and sections of the sewer line, constructing better protection for the Tuolumne River, and upgrading restrooms for improved accessibility and sustainability. At the Ahwahnee Hotel, the park is working to correct critical safety hazards in the hotel’s kitchen and install more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the dining room and kitchen to improve the visitor experience.
Since 2021, GAOA projects have supported an average of 17,000 jobs and generated an average of $1.8 billion for local economies annually. For fiscal year 2024, Interior proposed 56 projects that are expected to support more than 17,500 jobs and generate over $1.9 billion for the economy.
Secretary Haaland’s visit comes after National Park Service Director Chuck Sams highlighted the positive impact of the GAOA on the National Park System during a visit to Grand Teton National Park. While in the park, he toured the Moose-Wilson Road project, a major infrastructure investment that is improving driving, parking, hiking, and accessibility for visitors while preserving the narrow, winding road’s rustic character, scenery, and wildlife viewing opportunities Through GAOA funding the NPS has paved the previously rough section of road, completely overhauled a popular trailhead and parking area, and formalized pull outs and road edging.