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2008 Legislative and Policy Priorities for parks and trails

NRPA's Legislative Platform for federal programs: Land and Water Conservation Fund, Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act, and Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. See priorities for programs Promoting Health, Physical Activity and Recreation.

From the National Recreation and Park Association

"Parks and recreation can improve the physical and mental health of every person, and that parks and recreation should be an essential public service of every community in America."

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) annually supports a national agenda for public parks and recreation in America that will ensure:

  • Appropriate matching federal investments in local, regional, and state parks and recreation resources.
  • Conservation and stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.
  • Close-to-home access to parks and recreation resources for all.
  • National policies that promote healthy lifestyles and livable communities.

NRPA supports national policies that promote physical activity, proper nutrition, child care, juvenile justice, and environmental sustainability.

NRPA believes that parks and recreation can improve the physical and mental health of every person, and that parks and recreation should be an essential public service of every community in America.

Supporting Parks and Public Lands

Public parks are a unique American legacy that define our national character. From the smallest, pocket neighborhood park to the grandest national treasures, public parks give spirit and vitality to the American people. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) supports adequate federal investments and national policies that encourage the acquisition and development of parks, public lands, and recreation resources from the local to the national level that are available to all Americans for use and enjoyment.

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

Interior Appropriations - National Park Service

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) state assistance program is a matching federal grant program administered by the National Park Service (NPS) that has funded over 40,000 park and recreation projects in the 40 year life-span of the program. Local and state grantees have acquired parks, constructed recreation centers, built athletic fields, maintained trails, preserved conservation areas, and purchased public lands for fishing and hunting. LWCF projects have received matching 50% funding in 98% of all U.S. counties.

The LWCF also supports a federal side of the program that provides 100% funding for land for national parks, national forests, and national wildlife refuges. As the only federal program to support the acquisition and development of open space for local park lands and outdoor recreation facilities, LWCF provides the public places for people to get healthy and stay active.

LWCF helps communities provide places for their citizens to increase physical activity through close-to-home recreation resources.

For the past three years, the President has recommended terminating the LWCF state assistance program. NRPA fought to restore funding to LWCF and Congress approved appropriations for the LWCF state assistance program in each of those years due in large part to the tremendous outpouring of public support. In FY 2008, Congress restored $25 million for LWCF state assistance grants, which was still a cut of $4 million from FY 2007.

The President's 2009 budget once again calls for zero funding for the stateside LWCF grants, and in fact, goes further in requesting that administrative funding to provide oversight be stripped from the program.

  • NRPA supports an appropriation of $125 million for FY 2009 to restore adequate funding to the LWCF state-assistance program including funding for growing un-met needs and administrative oversight.

Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act (UPARR)

Interior Appropriations - National Park Service

The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act (UPARR) was authorized in 1978 as a competitive matching grant program administered by the National Park Service to assist cities and urban counties. UPARR has provided matching funding to cities for the rehabilitation of more than 1,500 deteriorating urban parks and recreation facilities. However, UPARR has not been funded since 2002 and the needs for rehabilitation of deteriorating urban parks have only grown greater in the years since UPARR last received appropriations. Despite the increased needs facing urban parks and recreation facilities, the President's budget calls for zero funding in FY 2009, and recommends cutting funds use for program administration of existing grants.

  • NRPA calls on Congress to restore funding for UPARR and appropriate $30 million for UPARR in FY 2009, as well as continuing to fund program administration for existing grants.

Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA)

Interior Appropriations - National Park Service

The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA) is a technical assistance program of the National Park Service (NPS) that implements the natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation mission of the NPS in cooperation with local communities and the states. RTCA provides planning assistance and project coordination to local governments and state agencies for trail planning, greenways, water trails, and special recreation projects. The President's budget proposal for RTCA would cut $500,000 from this extremely valuable program for local and state parks and recreation. While adding some funds for fixed cost increases, the net cut of $314,000, combined with administrative cuts made this year, would have a serious impact on the program, reducing the total number of projects aided nationally and cutting existing staff.

NRPA, with a number of other national and regional organizations, has witnessed the erosion of this program from a succession of cuts and rescissions which have seriously reduced its functional ability.

  • NRPA supports a program budget increase of $3.8 million for an appropriation of $12 million in FY 2009 to restore this program to its former level of service and staff.

Centennial Initiative

The Centennial Initiative is an ambitious effort of the Department of the Interior to plan for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. The Centennial Initiative legislation, still in draft form, includes creation of a fund to allow for capital construction and new initiatives to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our national parks. The President's budget also calls for operating and staffing increases for the National Park System for 2009.

  • NRPA supports the Centennial Initiative and an increase in the NPS operating budget for FY 2009, contingent upon addressing specific needs to fund LWCF, RTCA and UPARR.

For additional information or questions about the 2008 Legislative Platform, contact the NRPA Public Policy office in Washington, DC, at (202) 887-0290 or visit the NRPA website

Index of articles on federal funding programs

Supporting trails and greenways

Interview with USDOT Secretary Mary Peters

Letter from American Trails to Secretary Peters

SecretaryPeters' remarks at 2004 Trails Symposium

Sen. Coburn's proposal to redirect federal bike funds

Rep. McHenry opposing bicycling and trails funding


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