Mayors for Parks coalition urges federal legislators to fund, renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Fort Worth and Denver – Today, Betsy Price, the Republican mayor of Fort Worth, TX, and Michael B. Hancock, the Democratic mayor of Denver, CO, launched a new bipartisan effort to support federal funding for public parks, trails and green spaces in urban areas.
The Mayors for Parks coalition is a project of City Parks Alliance and will make the case to Congress and the White House about why parks are so vital to urban areas. Specifically, the coalition is pushing for reauthorization and robust funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is set to expire in 2015 and is a critical source of funding for city parks across the country.
The coalition launch this week is especially timely as legislators in Congress are in the midst of budget negotiations.
At its launch, the coalition also includes Mayor Sean Becker (I) of Bozeman, MT; Mayor Chris Coleman (D) of St. Paul, MN; Mayor Charlie Hales (D) of Portland, OR; Mayor Greg Stanton (D) of Phoenix, AZ and Pedro Segarra (D) of Hartford, CT. The coalition also released two short web videos today of Mayor Price and Mayor Hancock discussing the importance of parks and LWCF funding for their cities.
“Mayors in every city in America are facing the challenge of providing enough open areas to sustain a vibrant community,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “Access to parks for recreational activities makes for happier, healthier citizens. We’re launching the Mayors for Parks coalition because strengthening the LWCF will help ensure that cities remain competitive and continue to thrive for generations to come.”
“Preserving and expanding green, open spaces in our nation’s urban centers is critical to the success of local communities and our country as a whole,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a critical park funding source for nearly 50 years and it deserves permanent funding. I was pleased to hear Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s recent comments strongly supporting the LWCF, and I look forward to working with the White House and Congress to support this important program.”
“U.S. mayors across the political spectrum are coming together because they understand that preserving open spaces and providing outdoor recreation opportunities is critical to their cities’ growth and sustainability,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance. “City parks improve the health and vitality of communities, but the future of these important community assets is threatened by the expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It’s time for Congress and the White House to renew and fund the LWCF so that cities across the country can continue to see the benefits of city parks.”
Created in 1965, the LWCF has funded the creation of more than 42,000 state and local parks, playgrounds, urban wildlife refuges, greenways, trails and open spaces. The LWCF is also critical to protecting and improving recreational access to America’s national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. The fund is paid for by royalties from offshore oil and gas development, but Congress has continually diverted funding from the LWCF -- leaving it underfunded by millions of dollars each year. The mayors will be working over the next several months to broaden the coalition to include additional mayors and encourage federal legislators to support renewal and robust funding of the LWCF.
City Parks Alliance is the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks and is serving as the Mayors for Parks day-to-day coordinator. Their mission is to engage, educate and nurture a broad based constituency to support the creation, revitalization and sustainability of parks and green spaces that contribute to dynamic cities. City Parks Alliance has a strong track record of uniting and serving a growing network of hundreds of civic and community leaders, government agencies, parks and recreation authorities, funders and others.