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Feature Story

February 2014


Coalition of Mayors Urges Parks Funding Renewal

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A little green space can go a long way toward improving the health of the community that lives within sight of it. Multiple studies have shown the positive effects parks and green space can have on both mental and physical health. So it should come as no surprise that a bipartisan group of mayors from cities across the country have teamed up to make the case for parks to legislators on behalf of their citizens.

In December 2013, Betsy Price, Republican mayor of Fort Worth, Texas, and Michael B. Hancock, the Democratic mayor of Denver, 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 aims to 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.

"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."

The LWCF was created in 1965, and 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.

At its launch, the coalition also included: Mayor Sean Becker (I) of Bozeman, Mt.; Mayor Chris Coleman (D) of St. Paul, Minn.; Mayor Charlie Hales (D) of Portland, Ore.; Mayor Greg Stanton (D) of Phoenix; and Pedro Segarra (D) of Hartford, Conn.

"Mayors in every city in America are facing the challenge of providing enough open areas to sustain a vibrant community," Price said. "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," Hancock added. "The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a critical park funding source for nearly 50 years, and it deserves permanent funding."

The mayors will be working to broaden the collation to include additional mayors and encourage federal legislators to support renewal and robust funding of the LWCF.

For more information and to get involved, visit http://www.cityparksalliance.org/mayors-for-parks.


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