Barbara Tulipane, CAE, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s FY18 budget request:
“NRPA is deeply troubled by the cuts outlined in President Trump’s FY18 budget request. These cuts, which are reckless and shortsighted, turn back the clock on decades of progress in the areas of health and wellness, conservation, and social equity. Parks and recreation services are cost-effective solutions to some of our nation’s greatest challenges, therefore, cutting funding for programs that park and recreation agencies rely on for support is outrageous. Without these programs, many of the communities our agencies serve will be adversely affected — especially those that are underserved.
This budget proposal eliminates or decimates programs that underpin the successful decades-long partnership between local and federal governments. Park and recreation agencies don’t look to the federal government for all of their needs, but a reliable, dependable federal partnership is critical to local park and recreation infrastructure investment. We urge Congress to reject the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. These flexible funds allow local governments to determine how to invest in the programs and infrastructure that their residents want and need — including more than $800 million in park and recreation projects since 2005. NRPA also urges Congress to reject the elimination of the popular Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. These competitive grants have spurred investment in innovative park and active transportation projects across the country, which in turn leverage private investment.
President Trump effectively eliminates funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is particularly troubling and shortsighted, as it threatens the future of our public lands, such as local, state and national parks. Moreover, these cuts don’t save tax payers a dime. LWCF isn’t funded by taxpayer dollars, but from fees generated from offshore energy development. To date, the LWCF State Assistance Program has provided more than 40,000 grants to states and localities in support of close-to-home conservation and outdoor recreation. These grants have ensured the permanent protection of 3 million acres of public recreation lands across every state and territory in the nation.
Furthermore, the president’s 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not only dangerous, but is also financially irresponsible. No one can dispute the benefits all Americans have enjoyed as a result of the Clean Water Act. Our water is cleaner and our air is purer thanks, in part, to the green stormwater infrastructure solutions parks provide. NRPA also believes the president’s elimination of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) grant programs, including environmental education, will result in long-term costs to our nation. The absence of environmental education jeopardizes our ability to cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards, which NRPA believes is essential to the protection of our environment.
President Trump’s elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program threatens NRPA’s ability to keep children safe and learning in out-of-school time programming. Without 21st CCLC funding to support programming, countless sites that also serve nutritious meals and snacks through the federal child nutrition programs would no longer be available.
Finally, money allocated for the Prevention and Public Health Fund is once again being used to pay for other services, now potentially paying for a proposed consolidated chronic disease block grant, combining funding for programs around obesity, physical activity, heart disease and stroke, arthritis, tobacco and diabetes. Combining and cutting the overall funding for these key programs puts the health and wellbeing of all Americans at risk. Local agencies are well positioned to support chronic disease prevention and management in order to mitigate our nation’s ballooning healthcare costs associated with such diseases. The work of local agencies in the prevention of chronic disease must be prioritized and seen as a critical investment in the future health of our nation.
In building a stronger, healthier America, we should be aiming to strengthen these programs, not cut them. NRPA urges its members and advocates to contact their member of Congress and ask them to reject these cuts because they simply don’t make sense.”
About The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.