Advocacy Update: City Park & Recreation Funding, Green Infrastructure, and Emergency Relief

Advocacy Update: City Park & Recreation Funding, Green Infrastructure, and Emergency Relief
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City Parks Alliance’s federal advocacy efforts have been in full-force during the health crisis. Our legislative work focuses on increasing federal investment for city parks, and we serve as a strong voice before Congress in our efforts to advance the passage of several park initiatives. We will continue to keep City Parks Alliance members updated on city park funding opportunities in both emergency funding packages as well as existing programs.

Parks are essential for the overall health of cities, and we are fortunate to work with a large, multi-sector network of partners, including national and local non-profits, park and recreation agencies, mayors, engineering groups, and business organizations to help achieve this goal.

Recently Passed and Future Legislation

Information about the CARES Act and ongoing efforts around future relief aid that can be used by our members can be found here:

 

City Parks Alliance is Asking Congress to:

1. Include a One-Time, Historic Investment for City Parks

City Parks Alliance and its urban park partners are asking Congress to include a one-time, historic investment in our nation’s local parks in any future COVID-19 economic stimulus or infrastructure package. Our effort coincides with a number of congressional members calling for similar action. A letter of support with 113 organizations signed on was just sent to all members of Congress!

Parks and green space have always played an essential role in our communities, providing health, economic, and environmental benefits. The coronavirus crisis is demonstrating that far too many communities do not have access to safe, healthy parks. Investing in our nation’s urban parks can address this issue while at the same time provide much-needed workforce development opportunities.

2. Pass the Great American Outdoor Act (S. 3422)

City Parks Alliance is working with the broader conservation community to include the Great American Outdoor Act (S. 3422) in any future COVID-19 economic stimulus or infrastructure package. The legislation combines two bills – the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 500) and the full and permanent Land and Water Conservation Fund funding bill (S. 1081).

The legislation would establish the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Fund, which would direct up to $9.5 billion in non-taxpayer monies (unobligated mineral receipts) over five years to address priority repairs in national parks and on other public lands, and provide full and permanent funding at the $900 million annual level for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

President Trump supports full and permanent funding of LWCF. Recently, a Great American Outdoors Act support letter with 850 signatories was sent to all members of Congress.

3. Pass the Outdoors for All Act (S. 1458 and H.R. 4512)

City Parks Alliance and its partners are advocating for the passage of the Outdoors for All Act (S. 1458 and H.R. 4512). This bill codifies the current Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) and creates a dedicated source of funding for park projects in underserved communities. On February 27, 2020, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on four bills, one of which was the Outdoors for All Act, (H.R. 4512). Happy Haynes, Denver Parks and Recreation Director and City Parks Alliance board member, testified.

View the full house support letter here.

4. Include Green Infrastructure in Infrastructure Legislation

Congress and the President are still exploring infrastructure legislation, with possible inclusion in one of the COVID-19 stimulus/relief packages. Possible items include the Surface Transportation reauthorization, Water Resources Development Act, Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Resilience Revolving Loan Fund Act, LWCF, and ORLP.

At the end of April, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (EPW) released two bills that deal with water infrastructure: America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. The AWIA bill authorizes $17 billion in infrastructure projects. City Parks Alliance and its multiple partners provided the EPW Committee comments that encourage the utilization of green infrastructure to help with pre-disaster mitigation and water quality management.

View the comment letter here.

Urban Park Grant Opportunity Reminder

The National Park Service opened the fourth application round of the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program on January 31, 2020. For this selection round, a total of $40 million is available with a matching grant requirement. Grants range $300,000 to $1,000,000. Each state can submit up to 4 proposals. Cities that have a population of 50,000 or more people and are within one of the 497 US Census-designated “urbanized areas” can apply. Pre‐applications are due from state lead agencies on July 10, 2020.

Learn more about City Parks Alliance’s work on funding and advocacy for urban parks.

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