FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmembers Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Deb Haaland (N.M.), and Joe Neguse (Colo.) led 28 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter urging House leadership to include a one-time, emergency investment of $500 million for local parks in any future economic stimulus or infrastructure package.
This letter precedes local parks stimulus legislation Barragán plans to introduce in January. Local parks are at risk because of tightening state and local budgets during the pandemic.
“During this public health crisis, we have seen how critically important it is for Americans to have easy access to parks,” said Rep. Barragán. “They allow people to get outside, exercise, and get a mental health break from quarantine. However, the current economic downturn threatens to cut budgets and puts funding for parks on the chopping block. This would disproportionately impact communities that already have the least access, such as low-income communities and communities of color. A one-time stimulus in our local parks can protect jobs and preserve outdoor and recreational access for underserved communities.”
“Local and municipal parks play important roles in our communities, creating jobs and economic activity, promoting healthy lifestyles, and creating a sense of community. COVID-19 has drastically changed our world, and we must work to support programs and entities that have been hurt by this pandemic,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “By renovating and investing in our community parks, playgrounds, trails and green spaces through the Outdoor Legacy Partnership Program, we can ensure that our local parks will continue to play an important role in building healthier and more resilient communities.”
The letter underscores the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on parks services and unemployment, and how a one-time investment of $500 million through an emergency Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program could preserve up to 100,000 at-risk local seasonal jobs, provide at least 8,000 new jobs, and renovate more than 500 sites, all while adding $1.37 billion in economic activity.
“Getting outside is important for maintaining physical and mental health during this crisis, but communities of color and low-income communities don’t have equal access to outdoor recreation. The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the environmental and economic injustices that have existed in our country for too long. Investing in local parks will stimulate local job creation and economic activity and ensure everyone in our country has the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the outdoors,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“Local parks in my district provide incredible outdoor recreation opportunities to Coloradans and to visitors to our state and they fuel the main street economies and tourism in our local communities,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Along with many local parks across the country, Colorado’s parks have experienced significant budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and require robust economic relief to maintain operations. A significant, one-time investment in the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program will preserve countless seasonal jobs, invest in local economic activity and preserve the natural resources and outdoor spaces Coloradans love.”
A coalition of more than 200 organizations are supporting this letter and have sent a similar request to President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team. They write that, “COVID-19 is a wake-up call: the time to address the long-standing gaps in outdoor access and quality has come. As it formulates a plan for relief and recovery, your Administration can lead the way.”
The Outdoor Recreation Partnership (ORLP) Program was established by Congress in 2014 and is administered by the National Park Service. It delivers funding to build access to the outdoors in cities and towns of 50,000 or more residents. An emergency investment through an OLRP stimulus could alleviate the need for non-federal matches, be targeted towards underserved communities, prioritize shovel-ready projects, and provide health and wellness benefits to local areas.
The letter to House leadership was signed by: Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragan (Calif.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Deb Haaland (N.M.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Mike Thompson (Calif.) , Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Dianna DeGette (Colo.) , Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Allen Lowenthal (Calif.) , Grace F. Napolitano (Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) , Ro Khanna (Calif.), Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.) , Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Kathy Castor (Fla.), Ruben Gallego (Ariz), Bobby L. Rush (Ill.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Brendan F. Boyle (Pa.), Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Albio Sires (N.J.) , José Serrano (N.Y.) , Barbara Lee (Calif.), Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Peter Welch (Vt.) and Jesús G. “Chuy” García (Ill.)
Full text of the letter can be found here.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.