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News: The Reviving America's Scenic Byways Act of 2019


October 01, 2019

GCA Backed Bill Becomes Law

The Garden Club of America is pleased to announce that President Trump has signed into law the Reviving America's Scenic Byways Act of 2019. This bill was a legislative priority at the GCA's 2019 National Affairs and Legislative Meeting in Washington, DC. GCA club members responded to a Call to Action and wrote letters to their respective elected officials. The bill revives the Scenic Byways program at the Department of Transportation, which has been dormant for ten years.

The Garden Club of America strongly supported the bill as it made its way through the House and Senate. GCA President Debbie Edwards said, “The GCA applauds the leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate for their efforts to move this important bill to the desk of the President. For over 100 years, the GCA has embraced roadside beauty and the need to enhance and protect the scenic character of our communities and countryside.”

The House Bill, H.R. 831, sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline, (D-RI) and Rep. Garret Graves, (R-LA), passed by a 404-19 margin in the House of Representatives earlier this year. The Senate bill, S. 349, was sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, (R-ME) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). It passed unanimously this month. The bill's signing marks a new dawn for current and prospective scenic byways.

Joining with allied organizations, the GCA submitted a statement to the House of Representatives expressing support of the Bill. Scenic America's President Mark Falzone, a leader in the scenic byways program expressed these sentiments, “Together, we were able to reopen nominations for the National Scenic Byways program for the first time in ten years. There is no Scenic America without the GCA and your members…”

Scenic Byways and Billboards

Proposed byways must possess “intrinsic qualities” for acceptance to the program, and often this includes limitations on billboards, a core issue for the GCA for decades, and also a visual environment in a “relatively undisturbed state,” including “bodies of water, vegetation, and wildlife” according to USDOT.

The new law requires the Secretary of Transportation to start the application process for new byways within 90 days and to designate a round of new National Scenic Byways within one year. The Federal Highway Administration is tasked with developing procedures for the nomination process and publishing the process on its website within the 90 day window. 

Click here to read the GCA’s position paper on Transportation and Infrastructure.

In 1914 an official GCA committee was set up “to inquire into the opportunities for Beautifying Settlements and Highways."


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