FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2021
Legislation Provides $500 million Stimulus Funding for Urban Parks
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) introduced a bipartisan bill to provide an historic one-time stimulus of $500 million for urban parks.
Local parks are at risk because of tightening state and local budgets during the pandemic and economic downturn. The Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act would provide a funding boost for urban parks through a formula grant to states to fund local park projects, which will ensure investments are quickly executed to help communities recover from dual public health and economic crises.
“From places to sit in the shade, to spaces to exercise in the fresh air, to local job creators, urban parks bring so much value to our communities, especially during this public health emergency,” Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán said. “In Los Angeles County, low-income communities and communities of color often lack equal access to local parks. The threat of future park agency budget cuts place these critical community spaces on the chopping block. We need this one-time stimulus funding to help protect urban parks survive this crisis.”
“Today, my colleagues and I introduced bipartisan legislation, the Parks, Jobs and Equity Act (PJEA), that would provide a historic investment to help local parks recover from the pandemic and retain and create jobs in our communities. With coronavirus shutdowns, more than half of our country’s park agencies suffered from budget cuts in 2020,” Congressman Mike Turner said. “Now more than ever, we must support our local parks so that they can continue to serve as beloved centers of socially distanced, outdoor activities in our communities.”
“In Colorado, we understand deeply the importance of outdoor recreation and access to open spaces. That’s why I’m proud to co-lead the bipartisan Parks, Jobs and Equity Act which would fund more than 1,000 new or upgraded local parks, create jobs and invest in our environment,” Congressman Joe Neguse said. “Expanding opportunities for outdoor access by funding local parks will close the outdoor access gap, boost our local economies, protect at-risk seasonal jobs and invest in the health and wellbeing of our communities.”
A coalition of more than 200 national regional, and local parks organizations support the legislation, which will create jobs, improve local economies and address park inequity. Of the $500 million, 50 percent is designated for in low-income communities. In addition, two percent of funds will be allocated by the Interior Department to Indian Tribes.
If enacted, it’s estimated the Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act would:
- Create more than 8,000 new jobs.
- Add $1.37 billion to local economies.
- Fund more than 1,000 new or upgraded local parks.
Bill text for the Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act can be found here.
Below are quotes from some of the many organizations supporting the Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act.
“Access to nature is a human right, yet parks and green space are not equitably distributed. In some areas, parks can be downright unwelcoming and exclusionary. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need and underscored longstanding inequities, particularly for Black and Brown communities. By investing in local parks, we can work toward a common goal to ensure that all people – no matter their race, zip-code, or income level – have access to nature and all of its benefits,” said Tara Brown, Senior Government Relations Representative at The Wilderness Society. “We thank Representatives Barragán, Turner, and Neguse for their leadership and advocacy to include local parks as a part of the solution – making access to the outdoors more equitable and helping to bring economic recovery within reach.”
“We welcome the introduction of the Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act. The pandemic made it clear that the outdoors are not just a nice thing to have. Access to nature is essential for everything from improving individual health to addressing the worst effects of the climate crisis. Investing in our local parks is an important step in addressing the historical injustices that have denied Black and brown communities equitable access to the outdoors, while creating thousands of jobs and directing resources into communities reeling economically from COVID-19. We thank Rep. Barragan and Rep. Turner for their leadership, and we hope the House will move swiftly to advance this bill.” — Joel Pannell, Outdoors for All Associate Director, Sierra Club
“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids thanks Reps. Barragan and Turner for introducing this critical legislation. Study after study has shown that spending time outdoors can help children do better in school, develop social skills, and improve their health, but right now, too many children do not have nearby access to a quality park. By expanding access to nearby parks and green spaces, the Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act will help close the outdoor equity gap and ensure that more children are able to enjoy the benefits of spending time in nature.” — Jackie Ostfeld, Founder & Chair, Outdoors Alliance for Kids
“Park inequity has long plagued communities across the country and over the past year, the pandemic has exacerbated glaring disparities from this lack of access,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “This bipartisan legislation will provide urgently needed funding to help close the outdoor access gap that contributes to unacceptable disparities in health, climate resilience, and prosperity for too many people living in America. I’m grateful to Reps. Barragán, Turner and Neguse for their commitment to helping address park inequity so that more people will have access to the healing benefits of nature.”
“City Parks Alliance applauds Representatives Nanette Barragán and Mike Turner for introducing the “Parks, Jobs, Equity Act,” a bill that will help cities recover from COVID-19. During the pandemic, city parks across the country have experienced a substantial increase in park use, yet park budgets have been cut and staff laid off. This bill will improve outdoor recreation opportunities, provide job opportunities, and engage and empower youth in underserved communities. All are critical to the recovery of our cities.” — Julie Waterman, City Parks Alliance Advocacy Director
“Public lands and waters — whether they are part of neighborhood parks or national parks – should be for all. Yet more than 100 million Americans do not live within walking or biking distance of a park. This legislation is designed to ensure everyone, regardless of geography, background or identity, has meaningful opportunities to connect with the outdoors. An investment in local parks, playgrounds, trails, and green spaces will bolster mental and physical health, invigorate the job-creating $788 billion outdoor recreation economy, and can even contribute to the fight against climate change. Above all, it will do so inclusively by focusing on under-served communities. The outdoor industry is grateful for the leadership of Representative Barragán and the bill’s cosponsors for putting forward his important measure,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association.
“Despite record bicycle ridership, trail use and park visitation in 2020, many Americans still lack access to safe, healthy and green spaces to recreate outside,” said PeopleForBikes Coalition CEO Jenn Dice. “Congress can spur economic recovery through sustainable development with the Parks, Equity and Jobs Act by offering critical funding to American communities that need it most.”
“The Parks, Jobs and Equity Act will provide a much-needed investment in urban parks across the country and will be a welcome relief as park and recreation professionals and the agencies they represent continue to recover from the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Elvis Cordova, vice president of public policy and advocacy for the National Recreation and Park Association. “NRPA and our membership of more than 60,000 park and recreation professionals are thankful to Congresswoman Barragán for introducing this legislation and further displaying her commitment to achieving equitable access to quality parks and green spaces for all.”
Hispanic Access Foundation supports the Parks, Jobs and Equity Act funding the creation and development of local parks, playgrounds, trails, and green spaces in underserved communities. Communities of color are three times more likely than white communities to live in nature-deprived areas, which has created a legacy of poorer health and COVID-19 severity, higher stress levels, worse educational outcomes, lack of recreation and business opportunities, and greater vulnerability to extreme heat and flooding in these nature-deprived neighborhoods. Local parks are critical to closing this Nature Gap. We urge Congress to pass this bipartisan bill and bring equity benefits in health, education, job opportunities, outdoor recreation, and climate resilience to those who need it most. — Maite Arce, Hispanic Access Foundation President and CEO
“Centering racial equity in policy is imperative because Black, brown, and Indigenous communities, including children, have been harmed by generations of racialized disinvestment. Building a different future where all kids have a safe, joyful place to play is as important as tackling disparities in housing, education and health. We appreciate those policymakers that are leading on the Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act, which will provide valuable infrastructure investments to under-resourced communities and help advance racial equity in access to quality outdoor recreation.” — Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!