Implementing the Great American Outdoors Act in the Era of Sustainable Recreation: Time for a Mission 2030?


  • Dale J. Blahna U.S. Forest Service
  • Steve W. Selin
  • Wade C. Morse
  • Lee K. Cerveny



public land policy, land conservation, park and recreation infrastructure, diversity and inclusion,


The Great American Outdoors Act (AGOA) fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the first time since it was created in 1964. This is a boon for purchasing conservation lands, but equally important, the act provides funding to address massive federal agency recreation infrastructure backlogs. The last major overhaul of the U.S. parks and outdoor recreation system was over 50 years ago, during the era of Mission 66 and related programs. Since that time, a host of environmental and societal changes necessitates new approaches for updating conservation and recreation opportunities. In addition to acquiring critical park and conservation lands, and developing and updating facilities, new park and recreation goals include increasing public use and visitor diversity and advancing environmental justice, public health, and large-scale conservation goals. Integrated systems analyses are needed to address these diverse concerns across landscapes, regions, and jurisdictions, and new interagency and interdisciplinary approaches will be needed. This is a bureaucratic crossroads: for the first time in decades we can truly advance public access, human health, and social equity values of public lands; the GAOA is a critical process step toward, but not the culmination of, this goal.

Author Biography

Dale J. Blahna, U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Reserach Station

Research Social Scientist Emeritus