All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and overseas territories are set to receive a piece of a $43.38 million funding pie from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund targeted for local park and outdoor recreation projects.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made the announcement of the grants on Tuesday in Texas, joining Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who co-chairs the Mayors for Parks coalition, at her city’s Gateway Park. The announcement was part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s 50th anniversary, being marked in a weeklong series of events which continues Wednesday with Interior events in Welches, Oregon, and Vero Beach, Florida.
“These local projects — parks, ball fields, open spaces — play an important role in improving the health and vitality of urban areas, and protecting natural areas for future generations of Americans to enjoy,” Jewell said in a statement. “Congress needs to fulfill the promise made to the American people by enacting full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” which is funded from revenue from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Congress created the fund in 1964, but lawmakers have failed to reauthorize the program, which is aimed to encourage state and local jurisdictions to make additional investments in parks and recreation. The program will expire in 2015.
According to the Interior Department, President Obama’s budget request includes $800 million to continue funding the program, which gives a $4 return on investment in local communities for every $1 of program money spent.
“Our nation’s investment in the Land and Water Conservation Fund is an essential tool for Fort Worth and other cities to create new and revitalized parks, green spaces and recreation opportunities,” Price, a Republican, said in a statement.
Click here to see the state-by-state breakdown of the distribution of $43.38 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.