FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2019
Contact: Clarissa Rojas
Reps. Barragán, Turner Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fund Urban Parks
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) and Mike Turner (OH-10) introduced the Outdoors for All Act, HR 4512, a bipartisan bill that would create a dedicated source of funding for projects that expand outdoor recreational opportunities in urban and low-income cities, across the nation.
“For many low-income folks, city parks are the only easy and affordable access to the outdoors,” said Rep. Barragán. “Green spaces are crucial for the health and development of our kids, and the well-being of every member of the family. It’s my hope that this bill will help local governments to identify and create new green spaces. And to set aside existing green spaces for the construction of neighborhood baseball fields and playgrounds. It also allows for park projects along our Nation’s waterfronts, like the one in my district.”
By guaranteeing a source of funding for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP), the Outdoors for All Act ensures this competitive grant program will continue to identify and highlight new ways of providing opportunities for expanding outdoor recreation in under-served areas, as well as promoting the development of new or enhanced partnerships for outdoor recreation in urban communities across the country.
The Outdoors for All Act is a companion bill to legislation, S. 1458, introduced by Senator Kamala Harris (CA) in the Senate.
“Every American—especially our children—deserves access to the outdoors no matter where they live,” said Senator Harris. “We must do more to ensure that our communities have conveniently located parks and open spaces so that everybody can enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors.”
The Outdoors for All Act is supported by the American Planning Association, City Parks Alliance, LWCF Coalition, National Recreation and Park Association, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Outdoor Afro, GreenLatinos, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, America Walk, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Society of Civil Engineers, Outdoor Industry Association, American Hiking Society, Vet Voice Foundation, League of Conservation Voters and Hispanic Access Foundation.
“Access to parks and green spaces is not equitable. Many underserved communities don’t live near a quality park and are deprived of the benefits that nature provides,” said Yvette Lopez-Ledesma, Urban to Wild Assistant Director at The Wilderness Society. “The Outdoors for All Act will address these inequities through the creation and improvement of parks, especially in neighborhoods that lack green spaces.”
“Far too many people in the United States lack access to a close-to-home park or green space, and entire generations of children are growing up without experiencing the immense benefits of nature,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “Access to quality parks and green infrastructure will make our cities healthier, safer and more connected, and is essential for all residents. The Outdoors for All Act will help us get there, and I’m thrilled that Representatives Barragan and Turner have introduced this important legislation.”
“Today, far too many communities suffer from polluted air, contaminated water, and a lack of access to public lands and nature. In fact, one in three people in the U.S. do not live within walking distance of a quality park. We are committed to the work of breaking down the social and economic barriers that prevent all people from enjoying outdoor opportunities. And we applaud Rep. Barragan and Rep. Turner for leading a bipartisan effort to address the critical issues related to equity in the outdoors,” said Joel Pannell, Associate Director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All campaign.
“We are pleased to see continued momentum and bipartisan support for the Outdoors for All Act, which will help communities improve existing outdoor infrastructure and revitalize underserved neighborhoods. Parks and outdoor spaces are critical to the health and well-being of residents in our nation’s cities, towns and villages. They are the places where community members play, exercise, gather for social events, and connect to nature,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana, president of National League of Cities.
“The Outdoors for All Act will increase access to parks and open space for people of all ages living in urban areas across the country,” said Jim Bradley, NRPA Vice President of Government Affairs. “At NRPA, we believe everyone deserves a great park, which is why we’re grateful to Representatives Barragán and Turner for introducing this important legislation. We urge the House to swiftly pass this bill.”
“Currently, our public lands are not reflective of our demographic and ethnic diversity, especially as our country continues to change at a rapid pace. As our public lands are constantly under threat, it is crucial to engage all segments of our population because the future of our public lands will depend upon public support from all Americans,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Only one-third of Latinos live within walking distance of a park. The Outdoors for All Act aims to provide equitable access to parks for urban communities with the least access. This important legislation will give priority to projects that empower underserved communities, provide job-training to youth, and leverage resources through public-private partnerships.”
“We must address the legacy of environmental injustice that has resulted in low-income communities and communities of color lacking access to nearby green spaces,” said Laura Forero, Legislative Representative at the League of Conservation Voters. “The Outdoors for All Act addresses this issue head-on by providing much-needed LWCF funding for parks in disadvantaged communities throughout our country. We thank Representatives Barragan and Turner for prioritizing access to green spaces for underserved communities.”
“Everyone deserves access to outdoor recreation close to where they live so they can play, exercise, connect to nature and each other,” said Patricia Rojas-Ungar, vice president of government affairs at Outdoor Industry Association. “Unfortunately, one in three Americans does not live within a 10-minute walk to a quality park or open space, and residents in low-income communities live farther from a quality outdoor recreation area than their affluent counterparts. This is why OIA champions the ‘Outdoors for All Act’ sponsored by Representatives Barragán (D-CA) and Turner (R-OH) to develop new parks and open spaces while improving upon the existing areas designated for outdoor recreation. We encourage the House to pass this essential bill as soon as possible, so that everyone can enjoy the outdoors, regardless of their zip code.”
“Whole generations of children in our nation are growing up without access to the benefits of getting outdoors. Given everything we now know about the mental, physical and social health benefits of outdoor activity, we have an obligation to close this gap and ensure that everyone in our communities has access to the healing power of nature and the outdoors,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.
“We thank Representatives Barragán and Turner for introducing the Outdoors for All Act. Parks provide enormous health, economic, and social equity benefits, and with 80% of Americans now living in urban and metropolitan areas, investing in city parks must be a priority. Not only does this bill provide a guaranteed source of funding for urban parks, it helps ensure all people have access to quality, outdoor recreation opportunities that build healthier and stronger communities,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance.
Full text of the bill can be found here