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Last week, in a vote of 310 to 107, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) passed the House of Representatives in a broad show of bipartisan support. The president is expected to sign the bill any day, which will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and provide needed funds for deferred maintenance of our national parks.

The Great American Outdoors Act is landmark conservation and recreation legislation, in a time when we need unity and hope the very most.

The Mountain Mamas have been actively educating and advocating for the Land and Water Conservation Fund nearly since our inception in 2013, as the ball fields, fishing access sites, generational ranches, playgrounds and healthy forests resultant of LWCF funding are central to how we raise our families. Since the program began in 1964, America has been fighting for financial scraps to fund the program through the appropriations process. With passage of the Great American Outdoors Act – we will have the full $900 million annually to invest in our economy, provide jobs and ensure everyone has access to safe, outdoor spaces during these times when we need them the most.

Long story short, GAOA is a very big deal. And we did it – together.

For the last several years, I’ve been leading a loosely organized group of conservation and recreation organizations focused on advancing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Affectionately called “The Montana Machine” by our colleagues in Washington, D.C., our coalition has been extremely effective.

Why is that? Our group is broad, with everyone from wildlife advocates to wilderness groups to land trusts to businesses and everything in between. Everyone has portions of the Great American Outdoors Act that they prioritize over another. Everyone has different organizational goals. Yet we’ve stuck together, year after year, even as we didn’t see eye to eye, even as Congress and our great nation seemed chaotic. We focused on our commonality, our shared goal. We worked together, sharing the load and respecting one another. And at the end of the day everyone won.

Thank you to Sens. Tester and Daines for their hard work; they have actively championed for LWCF and the GAOA for years, never giving up. And thank you to Rep. Gianforte who recently added his support by voting for GAOA in the House last week.

But this win doesn’t belong to our “Montana Machine” coalition, or our delegation members. It belongs to each of you, reading this article at this very moment. It belongs to all Montanans, all Americans. Everyone who raised his or her voices by signing a petition, calling a delegation member, writing a letter, or by simply using these places everyday.

Your voice matters. Who would have thought that during a pandemic in a contentious election year, our Congress could come together and pass bipartisan legislation by such large margins? It’s because of you. So, this “win” belongs to each of you, not us. Take some time this weekend to wet a line, run a trail, sit on a park bench or kick the soccer ball around, and give yourself a pat on the back.

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Becky Edwards is the executive director of the Mountain Mamas and lives in Bozeman with her family.