Kristine Stratton, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), issued the following statement regarding the recent announcement by the United States Department of the Interior and the National Park Service:
“We are deeply disturbed by the recent inequitable actions taken in the final hours of the Trump administration by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. In issuing this secretarial order, they have chosen to ignore the bipartisan Congressional intent and unilaterally end the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program, which is a venerated grant program that helps to connect people in urban areas to crucial outdoor spaces, such as parks and playgrounds.
This decision takes resources away from communities most in need of parks — especially communities of color and low-income communities. The ORLP program was created to ensure that adequate resources from the Land and Water Conservation Fund were distributed to urban areas to ensure everyone has access to a local park. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shown, our parks and green spaces play a vital role in the physical, social and economic well-being of our communities. Since its creation in 2014, the ORLP program has funded innovative parks in underinvested communities to ensure that all people can experience the physical, mental and social benefits of nature.
Make no mistake, the Trump Administration’s actions are an environmental injustice that will take much-needed resources from underserved communities at a time when such funding is needed most. We are dismayed that this decision would be made in such surreptitious fashion, and we cannot stress enough the importance of the Biden administration taking swift action to repeal this decision. We respectfully ask the Biden administration to overturn this decision and announce a grant round for the ORLP program in 2021 that is in alignment with the Congressional intent of the program, ensuring that urban parks continue to serve as the cherished green spaces, community wellness hubs and economic drivers in cities across the nation.”
About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.