COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS REQUEST FUNDING FOR PARK ACCESS AND QUALITY IN NEXT STIMULUS

May 19, 2020
Washington, DC

Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land, today released the following statement on a letter sent to Congressional leadership calling for a one-time investment for local parks in an upcoming economic stimulus package. The letter has been signed by over 100 non-profit and community groups across the country. The letter and its signers can be viewed below. 

“During the coronavirus pandemic, nature has taken on a whole new meaning for many of us, becoming a vital respite from anxiety, grief, and stress. But not everyone has equitable access to the outdoors. That's why we're calling on Congress to include funding for urban parks in a future economic stimulus package," said Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “A historic, one-time investment in local parks would stimulate the creation of thousands of jobs and economic activity, expand park access for the one-in-three Americans who do not have a close-to-home park, while creating and improving parks in the neighborhoods where they are needed most and are disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. I'm pleased to see this wide ranging group of advocates and non profit organizations coming together to ensure everyone has access to quality, close-to-home park."  

The text of the letter is below:  

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy: 

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, representing local leaders, parks and conservation groups, and millions of supporters across the country, we write to urge you to include a one-time, historic investment for our local parks in any future economic stimulus or infrastructure package as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Parks and greenspace have always played an essential role in our communities, providing economic value, emotional and physical health benefits, and bringing people together. During the coronavirus pandemic, nature has taken on a whole new meaning for many of us, becoming the one place we go for exercise, fresh air, and respite from anxiety, and grief. But not everyone has equal access to the outdoors: in some communities parks may be too few and far between or too dangerous and rundown, and open space restricted by locked gates and “No Trespassing” signs. This crisis is demonstrating yet again that in too many communities, parks and accessible open space are still considered a privilege, when they should be a right. 

A historic, one-time investment in local parks would stimulate job creation and economic activity, expand park access for the one-in-three Americans who do not have a close-to-home park1, and provide the health and social benefits to underserved communities feeling the impacts of this crisis most acutely. 

Parks are drivers of local economies: in 2017 alone, local parks and recreation agencies generated $166 billion in economic activity and supported more than 1.1 million jobs nationwide.2 A 2018 report showed that parks and recreation spending on operations creates 23 jobs for every million dollars spent and 16 jobs for every million dollars spent on capital improvements.3 

Congress can act swiftly to address this urgent need for jobs and parks by investing in the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) or Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) programs which prioritize shovel-ready park development and acquisition projects that expand outdoor recreation opportunities in urban communities lacking sufficient close-to-home parks, engage public-private partnerships, and create jobs and help stimulate local economic development. 

 This historic, one-time investment would complement the Great American Outdoors Act we support to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Congress has consistently supported locally-driven parks and recreation programs through the annual appropriations process. Over the short existence of ORLP, projects in forty-eight towns and cities in 29 different states have expanded close-to-home outdoor recreation access. Projects include improving accessibility of playgrounds, creating parks on former brownfield sites and industrial lands, and developing dual-use spaces for recreation and green infrastructure storm water management that builds resilient communities. 

We thank you for bipartisan Congressional leadership in passing the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and most recently the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. These measures are providing critical funding to meet the immediate needs of communities bearing the brunt of this pandemic. As Congress prepares a package that will stimulate the economy, create jobs, and provide communities with the support they need we appreciate your inclusion of increased funding for local parks. 

Sincerely, 

 

National Supporters  

America Walks 

American Hiking Society 

American Planning Association 

American Society of Civil Engineers  

American Society of Landscape Architects American Trails 

Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood City Parks Alliance 

City Parks Foundation 

Clean Water Action 

Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives Green Schoolyards America 

Great Old Broads for Wilderness  

GreenLatinos 

Hispanic Access Foundation 

Latino Outdoors 

League of Conservation Voters 

National League of Cities 

National Parks Conservation Association  

National Recreation and Park Association  

National Wildlife Federation 

Natural Resources Defense Council 

Outdoor Afro 

Outdoor Alliance 

Outdoor Industry Association 

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 

REI Co-op 

Sierra Club 

The Trust for Public Land  

The Wilderness Society  

US Conference of Mayors  

Vet Voice Foundation  

Wilderness Inquiry 

Winter Wildlands Alliance World Urban Parks 

  

Regional and Local Supporters 

Active San Gabriel Valley 

Akron Parks Collaborative 

Alliance for Infrastructure Reuse and 

Redevelopment (AIRR) 

Anchorage Park Foundation 

Appalachian Mountain Club Auburn Area Recreation & Park District 

Austin Parks Foundation 

Avonworth Community Park 

Big City Mountaineers 

Brightline Defense 

Broadway Mall Association 

Bronx River Alliance 

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy Butler County, PA 

California Geographic Alliance 

California Invasive Plant Council 

California Mountain Biking Coalition California Outdoor Recreation Partnership California Park & Recreation Society 

City of Gilroy Parks & Recreation Commission Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association Conservation Lands Foundation 

Continental Divide Trail Coalition 

Cottonwood Gulch Expeditions 

David Brower Center 

East Coast Greenway Alliance 

Fairmount Park Conservancy 

Friends of Governors Island 

Friends of Mill Ridge Park 

Friends of Sloan Canyon 

Get Outdoors Nevada 

GirlVentures 

Groundwork Richmond 

Hudson River Park Friends 

Hunters Point Parks Conservancy 

Kokatat, Inc. 

Landforce 

Lantern Camps 

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust 

Los Angeles Parks Foundation 

Los Angeles River State Park Partners 

Los Padres ForestWatch 

Louisville Parks Foundation 

Madison Square Park Conservancy 

Memphis River Parks Partnership 

Minneapolis Parks Foundation 

Nashville Parks Foundation 

Natural Areas Conservancy 

New York Restoration Project (NYRP) 

New Yorkers for Parks 

Outdoor Outreach 

Parks and People Foundation, Inc. Pashek+MTR 

Pathfinder Ranch 

Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Philadelphia Parks Alliance 

Portland Parks Conservancy 

Portland Parks Foundation 

Prospect Park Alliance 

Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance Richland Township, PA Parks and Recreation 

Department 

Riverside Park Conservancy 

Roberts & Associates 

San Diego Mountain Biking Association San Jose Parks Foundation 

Seattle Parks Foundation 

Seed Your Future 

Seirus Innovative Accessories Inc. 

Southern Nevada Conservancy 

Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District Ten Strands 

The Praxis Project 

The Venture Out Project 

UC Irvine Outdoor Adventures 

Van Cortlandt Park Alliance 

Youth Transportation Organization