Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced the Outdoors for All Act. The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Senator Angus King (I-Maine), would expand outdoor recreational opportunities in urban and low-income communities across the nation.
The Outdoors for All Act codifies the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program in federal law and ensures that funding will go to communities without adequate access to local parks. As our cities grow and the effects of climate change intensify, the Outdoors For All Act would allow for equitable access to the benefits of local parks—from job creation, to shade and tree cover, to clean air. ORLP improves and funds new trails, green spaces, playgrounds, cultural gathering spaces, and more, bringing nature’s benefits to urban residents’ doorsteps.
“Our state is fortunate to have abundant natural resources that allow Mainers and visitors to enjoy our pristine environment,” said Senator Collins. “However, many Americans, particularly those living in urban and low-income areas, lack access to outdoor green spaces that give them the ability to experience the beauty of nature close to home. The bipartisan Outdoors for All Act would invest in these communities to support parks, playgrounds, trails, and other projects to help ensure Americans have outdoor recreation opportunities.”
“Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’ve experienced how people living in cities often lack adequate park space, an injustice that negatively impacts our communities and our environment,” said Senator Padilla. “The Outdoors for All Act would invest in new parks and open spaces—and upgrade existing ones—to bring nature’s benefits to urban residents’ doorsteps. Improving park access will provide benefits like shade, tree cover, and clean air that are critical as we grapple with the intensifying effects of the climate crisis. Everyone deserves access to our outdoor public spaces regardless of zip code.”
“Maine people know that access to the outdoors helps us lead happy, healthy lives — which is why I believe that all Americans deserve to have safe green spaces in their communities,” said Senator King, Chairman of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee. “This legislation would expand and improve natural spaces in low-income and urban area that lack the restorative outdoor opportunities most Maine people are so fortunate to have. It’s a simple idea that will make a major difference in the lives of many. I’m grateful for Senators Collins and Padilla’s leadership on this issue, and I hope that the Senate can advance our legislation quickly.”
Congress established the ORLP program in 2014 to support urban parks in underserved communities across the country. It is administered by the National Park Service and funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as a nationally competitive grant program to increase access to the outdoors for disadvantaged communities. While LWCF is a popular program with strong bipartisan support and mandatory funding, ORLP still remains a discretionary grant program, which jeopardizes funding for communities that don’t have access to outdoor recreation.
According to a report by the Trust for Public Land, in the 100 most populated cities, neighborhoods where most residents identify as Black, Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native or Asian American and Pacific Islander have access to an average of 44 percent less park acreage than predominantly white neighborhoods. Similar park space inequities exist in low-income neighborhoods across cities, highlighting the urgent need to center equity and justice in park investment and planning, just as this legislation would accomplish.
The Outdoors for All Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: The Wilderness Society, KABOOM!, Sierra Club, Trust for Public Lands, National Recreation and Park Association, City Parks Alliance, National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers (NASORLO), National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), LWCF Coalition, Outdoor Industry Association, REI Co-op, Latino Outdoors, Kids Speak for Parks, Safe Routes Partnership, National League of Cities, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, American Heart Association, American Forrest, American Hiking Society, Outdoor Alliance for Kids (OAK), Vista Outdoor, PeopleForBikes, and Children and Nature Network.
In addition to Senators Collins, Padilla, and King, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).
Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.-44) and Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio-10) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.