The Great American Outdoors Act, recently signed into law by President Donald J. Trump, received bipartisan support in the House and
Senate and offers billions of dollars to parks and open spaces across the country, including those located on the Coastside.
The act allocates $900 million into the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the acquisition of new public lands, while also providing $6.65 billion to the National Park Service to cover deferred maintenance over the next five years.
Since 1974, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has received $3.3 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This money is “used to assist in critical land acquisition and public access projects in both San Mateo County and Santa Clara County,” said Zoe Kersteen-Tucker, Midpeninsula board member representing the Coastside ward. “We’ve really looked to this fund in the past for help in our mission.
“Having a permanent allocation of $900 million per year is huge,” she added. “In the past, historically only about half of that has trickled down to the states. We have to fight for these funds year after year after year.”
Kersteen-Tucker elaborated on the ways in which this money may benefit the Coastside. “There are a lot of projects in our vision plan that are Coastside-related, that are upcoming,” she said, referencing Miramontes Ridge, the Purisima to the Sea trail, the Driscoll Ranch area in La Honda and Cloverdale Ranch as a few of the places in which her district hopes to make use of the money. “There’s just lots that we as Coastsiders will be able to take advantage of in the coming years.”
The funding allocated to the National Park Service under this act may also benefit Coastside open spaces such as Rancho Corral de Tierra, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The money could help complete projects, expand recreational opportunities and more, according to officials at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Specific projects to receive funding would be identified at a later date.
Kersteen-Tucker discussed the importance of the bipartisan support the Great American Outdoors Act received. To her, it was not only an indicator of the importance of public land to the American people but also an indication that legislators and the president were paying attention.
“Public parks and open spaces have been chronically underfunded for years,” she said. “I think Americans are falling in love with their open spaces, all over again, during this time of COVID.”