Park and Conservation Organizations Applaud Dept. of Interior for Grants to Build and Improve Parks in Disadvantaged Urban Communities

Park and Conservation Organizations Applaud Dept. of Interior for Grants to Build and Improve Parks in Disadvantaged Urban Communities

Media Contact: Tom McCann

The National Park Service announced the selection of Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program grants for projects to develop brand new or improve existing parks in 18 economically-disadvantaged, urbanized areas in 16 states. The National Park Service competitive grant program delivers funding to urban areas – jurisdictions of at least 50,000 people – with priority given to projects located in economically disadvantaged areas and lacking in outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) grants provide critical funding for urban parks and help ensure all people have access to quality, outdoor recreation opportunities, leading to healthier and stronger communities. This is the third round of ORLP grants, and when matched with other local funds, provide enormous health, economic, and social equity benefits to cities. With 80% of Americans now living in urban and metropolitan areas, investing in city parks must be a priority,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance.

“Access to parks and green spaces is not equitable. Many people in 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 Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program will address these inequities through funding the creation and improvement of parks, especially in neighborhoods that lack green spaces.”

“Our urban parks play a crucial role in spurring economic growth and development while creating more resilient, sustainable communities with green infrastructure systems,” said Tom Smith, Executive Director of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). “They serve as dual spaces for both recreation and stormwater management, harmonizing the natural and built environments. However, there are many urban areas without adequate funding to improve their parks and recreation services, which is part of the reason our nation’s public parks sit at a “D+” on the 2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card. These Department of Interior competitive grants will enable these urban areas to invest in innovative, resilient and sustainable solutions to maintain and modernize their parks.”

“These Outdoors Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) grants will increase access to parks and open space for people of all ages living in urban areas across the country,” said Kyle Simpson, NRPA Senior Manager of Government Affairs. “At NRPA, we believe everyone deserves a great park, which is why we’re excited about this announcement.”

Access to nature is a human right, said Joel Pannell, Associate Director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All Campaign. “Yet today, far too many communities suffer from polluted air, contaminated water, and a lack of access to quality parks, trails, and other public lands and waterways. The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) grants announced represent an important step in creating a future where everyone, regardless of zip code, can enjoy the multiple benefits of getting outdoors. We are thrilled that these grants will support efforts to prioritize outdoor equity as we build healthier, more vibrant, and more sustainable communities across the country.”

“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. “TPL is a proud partner with the National Parks Service and cities delivering quality, local parks to make our cities healthier, safer, and more connected.”


City Parks Alliance is the nation’s leading advocacy group for urban parks and open spaces. As the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks, City Parks Alliance leads and serves a growing network of civic and community leaders, government agencies, parks and recreation authorities, funders and others committed to the creation, revitalization and stewardship of parks and green spaces that contribute to dynamic and more equitable cities. For more information, please visit


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