ST. PAUL – Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz visited Minnesota today to announce $61.1 million in grant funding is available to communities in 26 cities across the United States to create new parks and trails, or substantial renovations to existing parks, through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program.
The ORLP program, established in 2014, enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities. Secretary Haaland announced the list of selected cities invited to submit final applications for their proposals during her visit.
“Access to the outdoors is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and every community in America but not everyone has the same equitable opportunities to enjoy green spaces,” said Secretary Haaland. “Funding from the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership will continue to expand our communities’ connections to urban green spaces, where children can play, families can connect, and a love and appreciation for the outdoors can be nurtured.”
During her visit, Secretary Haaland joined Minnesota leaders to see firsthand the enhancements and opportunities ORLP grants bring to urban communities. Secretary Haaland, Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, and Representative Betty McCollum visited the recently completed Midway Peace Park in St. Paul, which received ORLP funding in 2020. Secretary Haaland, Lt. Governor Flanagan and Rep. Illhan Omar also visited Willard Park in Minneapolis, which stands to receive a $1.3 million grant to expand and renovate park amenities.
At Midway Peace Park, Secretary Haaland highlighted how these efforts advance the America the Beautiful initiative’s goals to goals to advance equity, biodiversity, and climate change through collaborative and locally led conservation. She also highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s $1 billion America the Beautiful Challenge, which is being funded partly through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will leverage federal conservation and restoration investments with private and philanthropic contributions to accelerate land, water and wildlife conservation efforts across the country.
“So much of the work of the National Park Service takes place in local communities through programs like the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “Now in its eighth year, the program leverages federal funds to provide economically disadvantaged communities with the means to create and improve parks, trails, and recreation opportunities. We look forward to providing more grant opportunities like this to states across the country.”
Priority is given to projects that are targeted to meet the needs of underserved communities; provide opportunities for employment or job training; involve and expand public-private partnerships; and rely on a high degree of coordination among all levels of government, to expand and improve recreation opportunities for all.
Since its inception in 1965, the LWCF has funded $4 billion worth of projects in every county in the country. Last year, Congress permanently funded the LWCF at $900 million per year with wide bipartisan support. At no cost to taxpayers, the LWCF supports increased public access to and protection for federal public lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas – and provides matching grants to state governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites.