September 25, 2018

Harris Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in Cities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris introduced the Outdoors for All Act, legislation to establish a dedicated source of funding for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) to increase access to outdoor recreation opportunities in cities and towns.

As a nationally competitive grant program funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, ORLP helps create and improve state and locally-owned parks and other outdoor recreation areas, particularly in recreation-poor communities deprived of the benefits that parks and open spaces provide. Currently, one in three Americans do not live within a 10-minute walk of a quality local park, and this limits the ability for children to grow up experiencing the outdoors.

“As our cities and urban areas continue to grow, outdoor recreation opportunities have failed to keep up,” said Senator Harris. “This is an issue affecting communities across the country from Bakersfield, California to Memphis, Tennessee, where less than 50% of the populations live within a half mile of a park. Our children and future generations deserve to be able to enjoy our parks and open spaces, and it’s time we take steps to ensure that.”

The Outdoors for All Act is a companion bill to legislation introduced by Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) in the House of Representatives.

“Increasing the number of green spaces for our youth is vital for the well-being of families in urban communities across the country. Not only do parks improve the quality of life by providing social spaces, they promote healthy and active lifestyles for children of all ages,” said Rep. Barragán. “Too many underserved neighborhoods lack public spaces for children and families. Thank you, Senator Harris, for introducing this important legislation in the Senate.”

The Outdoors for All Act is supported by a broad coalition, including The Trust for Public Land, National Recreation and Parks Association, City Parks Alliance, American Planning Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, National League of Cities, Vet Voice Foundation, America Walks, The Nature Conservancy, Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition, American Forests, Rails to Trails Conservancy, League of Conservation Voters, Green Latinos, NRDC, Trust for America's Health, American Heart Association, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, Outdoor Industry Association, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Hispanic Access Foundation, The Wilderness Society, and the American Association of Retired Persons.

“Every child throughout the country deserves great outdoor experiences, which include a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home," said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “Senator Harris’ legislation will help ensure that every child, regardless of background, income or zip code, can have that chance, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to see it become law.”

“At NRPA, we believe everyone deserves a great park,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA president and CEO. “That’s why we’re proud to support the ‘Outdoors for All Act,’ sponsored by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), which will increase access to parks and open space for people of all ages living in urban areas across the country.”

“We applaud Senator Kamala Harris’ leadership in introducing the Outdoors for All Act to provide much needed park funding to disadvantaged communities around the country,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance. “With 80% of Americans living in urban and metropolitan areas, investing in our city parks is needed now more than ever. Parks play a vital role in the social, economic and physical well-being of America's cities and their residents.  This important legislation will leverage additional funds from public and private sources and will help provide healthy and vibrant parks for all.”

Additionally, Harris’ legislation was introduced in advance of National Walk to a Park Day on October 10, where Americans will be walking to their local park to highlight the importance for access to the outdoors for all.

Full text of the bill is available here.