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Bennet, Schumer, Brown Urge USDA to Expand Funding for Outdoor Recreation to Support Rural Economies

Last week, Senators Michael Bennet, Chuck Schumer, and Sherrod Brown urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to revise its funding policies to include outdoor recreation projects under its Community Facilities Program (CFP). The move aims to stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life in rural communities across the nation.

The senators’ push follows discussions with state leaders who expressed a strong need for expanded USDA community facility funding to grow rural economies. By making outdoor recreation projects eligible for these funds, the senators believe small towns can diversify their economic bases and attract more residents and visitors.

Currently, USDA’s CFP provides loans and grants to develop essential facilities in rural areas. These include fire stations, town halls, health clinics, schools, and libraries. The program’s goal is to ensure that rural communities offer the same quality of life and services as urban areas. Despite the benefits, outdoor recreation projects remain ineligible, a policy the senators are seeking to change.

In a joint statement, the senators emphasized the potential of outdoor recreation to bolster local economies. “The federal government has an opportunity to support rural areas as they make their communities more accessible and attractive to live, work, and spend their time,” they wrote.

Citing examples such as bike trails in Fruita, Colorado, paddling and boating in Lake Placid, New York, and hiking on the Buckeye Trail in Ohio, the senators highlighted the proven success of these investments in enhancing local economies.

The push for inclusion in the USDA funding follows a report detailing the outdoor recreation industry’s significant economic impact, including creating 5 million jobs and contributing $1.1 trillion to the U.S. economy. However, investment has stagnated, prompting the senators to act.

In their letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small, the senators outlined the feedback from state directors of outdoor recreation. They stressed that the current ineligibility of community facilities for outdoor recreation infrastructure funding limits the economic potential of these areas.

“Americans are increasingly venturing outdoors with a renewed passion, However, investment in this vital economic engine has stagnated,” the senators noted. They proposed that facilitating access to outdoor recreation through the Community Facilities program could foster an economy beneficial to all, particularly rural communities.

Support for this initiative comes from various stakeholders, including the Trust for Public Land. Luis Benitez, chief impact officer at the organization, praised the senators’ efforts, noting the critical need for infrastructure that supports easy access to recreational activities, which can be scarce in rural regions surrounded by public lands.

Jessica (Wahl) Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, also expressed strong support. “We applaud Senators Bennet, Schumer, and Brown for focusing on recreation as a rural economic development tool by making outdoor recreation projects eligible for this USDA funding,” Turner said. She emphasized the transformative potential of such funding on the economic and social fabric of rural communities.

Further advocating for the economic benefits of outdoor recreation, the senators have previously introduced legislation such as the Rural Outdoor Investment Act. This act aims to promote economic growth in rural areas by investing in outdoor recreation infrastructure, planning, and business development.

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Colossal113
Colossal113
April 29, 2024 3:41 pm

Isn’t it intriguing how the senators are pushing for more USDA funding to boost rural economies through outdoor recreation? Their idea to create a grant program for innovative projects is spot on. It’s exciting to see them championing outdoor activities for economic growth and community vitality.

BrookeValley
BrookeValley
April 29, 2024 8:17 pm

Have you heard about the senators pushing for more funding for outdoor recreation to help rural communities thrive? It’s great to see them recognizing the economic boost these projects can bring!

EliseWillow
EliseWillow
April 29, 2024 11:04 pm

Guess what? Outdoor projects don’t just help rural economies. they boost community health too! With hiking trails and campsites, the USDA can revitalize rural areas and keep us active. Let’s root for more investment in these projects for a healthier, wealthier tomorrow!

closefire92
closefire92
April 30, 2024 1:44 am
Reply to  EliseWillow

Investing in outdoor activities not only invigorates rural communities but also promotes holistic well-being. How might we further encourage sustainable outdoor initiatives to benefit both our economies and overall health? Let’s rally for these initiatives together for a brighter future!

Xena Night
Xena Night
April 30, 2024 2:12 am

Isn’t it cool how those senators are pushing for more USDA funds for rural outdoor projects? I feel like it’s a smart move that could boost the economy and make life better for us folk. Imagine our small towns becoming lively hotspots for everyone to enjoy!

Authentico775
Authentico775
April 30, 2024 3:05 am

Did you hear about these senators? They’re all about spicing up rural areas with outdoor fun! Let’s turn those small towns into adventure hotspots and watch them flourish!

PenelopeSpark
PenelopeSpark
April 30, 2024 9:57 am
Reply to  Authentico775

I heard these senators are urging the USDA to expand funding for outdoor recreation to support rural economies. Let’s see how these initiatives revitalize communities with nature’s touch! Did you know outdoor recreation contributes billions to rural economies annually?

GlowingCharmz88
GlowingCharmz88
April 30, 2024 4:27 am

I can’t stop worrying about how rural areas struggle without USDA funds for outdoor projects. Let’s support these small towns to thrive! Their growth matters.

blu3j4y70
blu3j4y70
April 30, 2024 12:31 pm

It’s crucial to invest in rural areas for their economic well-being. USDA funds can truly make a difference for small towns and their outdoor projects. Their growth matters to us all. As they say, Small changes can lead to significant outcomes!

RoseCanyon
RoseCanyon
April 30, 2024 6:26 am

I think it’s awesome that the senators are pushing for more funding for outdoor projects in rural areas. It’s not just about boosting the economy. it’s also about promoting healthier lifestyles and preserving our natural spaces. Let’s support this initiative for the benefit of our communities!

Seth Peak
Seth Peak
April 30, 2024 11:18 am

I think boosting outdoor recreation funding in rural areas not only helps the economy but also promotes healthier living. It’s a win-win for residents and visitors alike. What do you think?

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Bennet, Schumer, Brown Urge USDA to Expand Funding for Outdoor Recreation to Support Rural Economies! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/bennet-schumer-brown-urge-usda-to-expand-funding-for-outdoor-recreation-to-support-rural-economies/