Critical Legislation on Parks and Recreation Moves Through Congress

Working with coalition partners and allied organizations, ASLA Government Affairs helped to successfully move several pieces of parks and recreation legislation through Congress. 

Saving the Land and Water Conservation Fund:

Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a markup of H.R. 502, a bill to permanently authorize the LWCF. This bill was a compromise between Chairman Rob Bishop (UT) and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (AZ). Besides permanently authorizing the LWCF, the bill also guarantees that 40 percent of funds go to state grants and 40 percent goes to federal programs. The remainder of the funds would be discretionary. With landscape architects accessing the state-side of LWCF to plan and design community park projects, this delineation of funding is an important victory for the profession. The mark-up concluded with the committee voting down multiple amendments detrimental to the LWCF. The bill passed the committee by voice vote and is expected to be fast-tracked to the full House of Representatives for consideration. 

Every Kid Outdoors Act Passes the House!

The Every Kid Outdoors Act passed the House of Representatives on September 12, with a strong bipartisan vote of 383-2, advancing the bill for action in the Senate. The measure would continue the previous administration’s Every Kid in a Park program, which created a pass program providing free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our national public lands, waters, and shores. Hundreds of thousands of fourth graders have taken advantage of their free passes to federal lands and waters since the program began, and strong financial support from private-public partnerships has ensured that youth from low-income schools and communities have the transportation and resources they need to enjoy equitable access to the outdoors. Landscape architects have been at the forefront of encouraging young people to spend more time in nature. Continuing the Every Kid in a Park program will support this effort, while also helping to create the next generation of stewards of our natural resources. 

Addressing the National Park Service Maintenance Backlog:

Also, last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources also passed H.R. 6510, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. This compromise bill would help address and fund the $12 billion in deferred maintenance for the National Parks Service (NPS) and other federal land management agencies. The bill would create a five-year $6.5 billion fund to allow the NPS and other land management agencies to address the outstanding maintenance and construction backlogs. After more than 20 amendments meant to weaken the bill were defeated, the bill passed the committee unanimously and will move to the full House of Representatives. ASLA and its grassroots advocates have been working with policy makers to address and eliminate the maintenance backlog on our federal lands. This measure is an important step in achieving this goal. 

ASLA thanks its grassroots advocates for their help in achieving these legislative victories. Please continue to use the iAdvocate Network to support your ASLA Government Affairs team as they continue to work to achieve final passage of these measures. 

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