news releases

14 May 2020

Inclusion of the Great Outdoors in the Stimulus Benefits the Economy and Our Health

Category: News Releases

As our nation experiences the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of access to the outdoors – an outlet for communities to support our mental and physical health – is magnified. Unfortunately, those in less privileged communities find themselves in a double whammy of air pollution making the disease more severe, while lacking the green space that is so necessary to resilience, health, and well-being.

While Congress debates the details of future stimulus bills, Hispanic Access Foundation’s President and CEO Maite Arce released the following statement to encourage Congress to include the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan Senate bill that would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog in our public lands, as part of the package:

“From the smallest to the largest of Latino communities, LWCF has been critical in providing all our nation’s diverse communities with what is often their main or only means to experience the outdoors. Whether it’s providing new trails, establishing bike paths or securing neighborhood green space, LWCF’s reach into our cities and towns is vital to the health and well-being of millions of Americans nationwide.

“Support for LWCF is vast, diverse and bipartisan and does not cost taxpayers a penny as it’s funded through royalties collected through offshore oil and gas drilling. Americans of all stripes reap the benefits of these protected places, which help support local businesses and provide outdoor access and opportunities for hunters, fishermen, climbers, hikers, bikers, and campers across America. “One way to quickly jumpstart the economy, bolster our health, and protect and maintain access to the outdoors is with the Great American Outdoors Act. If passed as part of an economic stimulus package, this measure would create jobs, provide relief to governments struggling to maintain essential services, alleviate crowding in public lands as quarantine measures are lifted, and connect children, families, and everyone else to the benefits of nature.

“It is clear that green spaces, encompassing our glorious national parks all the way down to the neighborhood parks where our children once played, can act as a cost-effective fast track to reducing the burdens of inequity that poorer communities and communities of color face. What’s more, they can keep us healthier in the face of COVID-19.”

With overwhelming support Congress voted in 2019 to permanently reauthorize LWCF – a program that’s protected more than 100 national battlefields and supported over 42,000 parks and recreation projects across the country, in addition to protecting more than 2.2 million acres of national parks. LWCF does not cost taxpayers, but Congress is responsible for allocating those royalties to the program. While its annual allocation is capped at a maximum of $900 million, Congress has only fully-funded it twice within its 56 years of existence.

The Great American Outdoors Act combines two bills – the LWCF Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081) and Restore America’s Parks Act ROPA (S.500), which addresses the $12 billion maintenance backlog facing our national parks and this bill would help improve key facilities like trails, campgrounds, restrooms, roads, docks and more.

About Us

HAF improves the lives of Hispanics in the United States and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systems.

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