Washington, DC — City Parks Alliance commends Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for her remarks at the National Press Club in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and for the Interior Department’s initiative to connect future generations with our nation’s public parklands, including in urban areas.
“We applaud the Secretary’s strong support for full funding and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that provides critical funds for conservation, including urban lands for public enjoyment and recreation,” said City Parks Alliance Executive Director Catherine Nagel. “Continued federal support for urban parks is a critical step in assuring that our nation’s young people have opportunity and access to play and learn in the outdoors.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s “state side” grant program has enhanced the quality of life for urban residents and sustained local economies by funding the creation of more than 42,000 state and local projects including parks, playgrounds, urban wildlife refuges, greenways, trails and open space in all 50 states, U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia. In fact, more than 98% of the counties in the nation have a park project funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Seventy-six percent of the total funds obligated have gone to locally sponsored projects providing close-to-home recreation opportunities that are readily accessible to America's urban residents.
The LWCF’s state and local grant program was an essential resource for improving access to green spaces in urban communities when it was fully funded in the 1960s and 1970s. However, in recent years the state grant program has only been funded at a fraction of its authorized levels, severely limiting the program’s ability to provide outdoor opportunities to the more than 80% of Americans who live in urban areas.
Easy access to parks, green spaces, and recreation areas is critical to the wellbeing of urban communities. Investments in parks help grow local economies by creating jobs, increasing property values, and attracting the kinds of businesses, workforces, and private capital that will make metropolitan areas economically competitive in today’s global economy. The Land and Water Conservation Fund can be an essential tool for city leaders as they seek to make their communities economically, environmentally and culturally vibrant through the creation of new and revitalized parks, green spaces and recreation opportunities.
In addition to support for LWCF, Secretary Jewell reinforced her commitment to partnering with cities to improve urban parks and increase access for urban-dwelling Americans to get outside through a new initiative to develop partnerships in 50 cities to create opportunities for outdoor recreation for more than ten million young people by 2017. City Parks Alliance supports the Department’s efforts to leverage urban parks to increase youth engagement with the outdoors through employment, learning and recreation.