Congress Must Leverage the Power of Parks and Recreation

Local parks provide a multitude of benefits for residents of communities across the country. Parks serve as true wellness hubs and local economic engines for their communities; they create millions of jobs and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity, provide green spaces for physical activity and enjoyment of nature, distribute nutritious meals for youth and older adults, develop environmental resilience, and so much more.

That is why NRPA is proud to advocate in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of park professionals across the United States, supporting policies that promote equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being, as well as raising awareness of the essential role that parks and recreation plays in every community. We are pleased to share the resources below that support this mission.

Photo: Youths enjoy a book poolside at their local park and recreation agency. Photo courtesy of Jason Garris, City of Asheville (North Carolina) Parks and Recreation


July 2024 – Park and Recreation Month

July 2024 marks Park and Recreation Month, a tradition dating back nearly four decades through which NRPA celebrates the dedicated individuals who maintain and operate local, state and community parks. This year’s theme — “Where You Belong” — highlights the unique ability of parks to bring people of all backgrounds together to foster connections.

NRPA encourages policymakers in Washington, D.C., to get involved in the conversation around Park and Recreation Month. Click here to learn more and to view our toolkit on how to engage!

Report – Economic Impact of Local Parks

One massive impact of local parks is their ability to drive local economic activity and employment. NRPA partnered with George Mason University to further explore this relationship, publishing a report titled The Economic Impact of Parks in fall 2023.

The report found that local park and recreation agencies were responsible for generating more than $200 billion in economic activity and supported nearly 1.1 million jobs in 2021.

While the focus of this research was on the more readily measurable and direct effects of park spending, the report also highlighted additional benefits that are far more difficult to quantify. These include reductions in health care costs through increased physical activity, mitigation of flood risks through improved stormwater management, positive correlations between park proximity and property values leading to benefits for homeowners and local government tax bases, and much more.

Click here to view the full report and learn more about impacts in your area!

Policy Platform – How Congress Can Support Parks and Recreation in 2024

Every day, NRPA advocates in support of hundreds of thousands of park professionals nationwide. We support policy measures that will allow communities to best leverage the power of parks and recreation in service of their residents.

Some of NRPA’s top policy priorities in 2024 include:

  • Full passage of the Outdoors for All Act, which will strengthen the resilience of the existing Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program that supports local park development in disadvantaged communities
    • We urge members of Congress to support passage of a final outdoor recreation package in 2024 that includes the Outdoors for All Act.
  • Robust funding for the “Stateside” programs within the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which allow the federal government and states to invest in local park development
    • We urge members of Congress to urge appropriations leaders to provide full funding for these important programs administered by the National Park Service in FY25.
  •  Increased funding for a broad suite of grant programs in the health and wellness, conservation, community development and related policy areas
    • We urge Members of Congress to contact the House or Senate Appropriations Committee in support of these programs. Click here to read NRPA’s full letter to Congress regarding FY25 appropriations legislation.

To learn more, please click here to read more about NRPA’s general policy priorities.

To discuss NRPA’s policy platform in greater detail, please reach out to Kyle Simpson, NRPA’s Director of Government Affairs, at



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