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As spring-like weather slowly makes its way into our nation's mid-Atlantic region, Congress has gone home for the annual Easter/Passover recess. Over the past few months a lot has happened on issues of importance to park and recreation agencies. Here is an update on some of our priority legislation as well as some opportunities to talk with your elected officials and learn more about federal programs that impact your agencies. If you ever have questions or comments about NRPA’s legislative platform, want to ask questions or tell us how these and other federal programs help/hinder your agency, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Kevin O’Hara
Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs

Legislative Forum Recap

In late March, more than 120 of your colleagues from 35 states, representing more than 90 municipalities, came to Washington, D.C. to talk parks and rec with their federal elected officials. From the more than 200 meetings NRPA members attended, we’ve seen additional co-sponsors sign onto key legislation and relationships built that will help us make the case for parks and rec in the future. Thanks to all who attended and continue to advocate at home! For more on the activities around Legislative Forum check out this blog post.

 LWCF State Assistance

Legislative Forum provided the opportunity for NRPA to promote H.R. 2727 — legislation which would require a minimum of 40 percent of annual Congressional spending on LWCF be allocated to the State Assistance Program. The advocacy efforts of NRPA members on behalf of H.R. 2727 is starting to take hold with additional co-sponsors being added to the bill. For more information on this bill and to continue the drive to add Congressional sponsors, please visit the action center.

Our March visits also allowed NRPA to recognize Representative David McKinley of West Virginia who introduced H.R. 2727. NRPA’s Barbara Tulipane, along with members of our Board and members from the First Congressional District in West Virginia awarded Rep. McKinley our Community Parks and Recreation Congressional Award of Merit for introducing the legislation.

LWCF “Competitive Grant” Pilot Program for 2014

Congress finally completed work on their spending bills for FY14 in January of this year — approximately three and a half months late, but better late than never. Included in the final FY14 Department of the Interior spending package was a small surprise for the LWCF State Assistance Program. In addition to providing $45 million for State Assistance grants — an increase of about $5 million over final FY13 levels — Congress included a one-time $3 million “competitive grant” program intended to support outdoor recreation projects in primarily urban communities. NRPA has been working closely with the National Park Service (NPS) in the drafting of the funding guidelines for this program. While the amount is certainly limited, we see this type of grant process as an opportunity to highlight the great work the State Assistance Program is doing and to raise awareness of the critical shortage of resources currently available for projects in some of our most underserved urban areas.  

As long as the funding available is in addition, and complimentary, to the current State Assistance Program, we will continue to work with our partners at NPS to see new resources made available to local parks across our nation.

Children in Nature

NRPA serves on the steering committee for the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), which is made up of dozens of national and state-level organizations committed to providing young people with access to quality outdoor experiences and environmental education. OAK focuses on connecting youth with nature wherever it may be, from our National Parks to community gardens in major metropolitan neighborhoods. OAK is planning its second “Great Outdoors” America Week youth event for Washington, D.C. in late June with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell invited to participate.

Click here for more on our children and nature priorities.

Click here to learn more about OAK.

Trouble Ahead for MAP-21 and Funding for Walking and Biking

The nation’s surface transportation policy which funds active transportation initiatives at the state and local level (known as MAP-21) is scheduled to expire at the end of September, and with it, critical programs which promote safer and more livable communities such as the Recreational Trails Program, Safe Routes to Schools and other walking and biking initiatives.

Of even higher urgency, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx reported on April 15 that the Highway Trust Fund, which is the primary means of funding the entire Surface Transportation Act program, is likely to be exhausted by the end of August. Keep Reading

Updates on Health and Wellness Legislation

NRPA successfully added health and wellness issues to the policy platform and launched them during Legislative Forum. Since then, we have seen a very receptive response on the Hill. As discussions around the budget process move forward, we are working to ensure that when leaders talk about public health, they think of park and recreation agencies. Some of the policy issues at the forefront of this are the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, prevention and public health funding at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act. Keep Reading

Ask USDA — Summer Meals

If your park, camp or community recreation center is a site for the Summer Food Service Program, you will want to join the staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their webinar, “Ask USDA — Summer Meals” on Thursday, April 24. The webinar will be a Q&A session to answer any questions you have about the program. You can find out more information and register here.

Looking for more grant opportunities? is the place to go!

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