The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) will provide $61.1 million in grants funds for communities in 26 cities across the country to build new parks and trails or make improvements in existing parks, as announced by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Fish and Wildlife and Parks Assistant Secretary Shannon Estevez in Minnesota last Friday.
Created in 2014, the ORLP enables urban communities to build new outdoor recreational spaces, improve existing parks, and form relationships between the people and the great outdoors for the economically underserved communities. Secretary Haaland announced the list of selected cities invited to submit final applications for their proposals during her visit.
“Access to the outdoors is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and every community in America, but not everyone has the same equitable opportunities to enjoy green spaces,” said Secretary Haaland. “Funding from the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership will continue to expand our communities’ connections to urban green spaces, where children can play, families can connect, and a love and appreciation for the outdoors can be nurtured.”
During her visit, Secretary Haaland joined Minnesota leaders to personally see the improvements and opportunities the ORLP grants can bring to urban communities.
Secretary Haaland, Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, and Representative Betty McCollum visited the recently completed Midway Peace Park in St. Paul that received ORLP funding in 2020.
The secretary also emphasized how the efforts help progress the America the Beautiful Initiative’s goals to advance equity, biodiversity, and climate change through collaborative and locally-led conservation.
She said the Biden-Harris admin’s one-billion-dollar America the Beautiful Challenge, funded partly through Pres. Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will leverage federal conservation and restoration investments with private and philanthropic contributions, fast-forwarding land, water, and wildlife conservation efforts throughout the nation.
Secretary Haaland, Lt. Governor Flanagan, and Rep. Illhan Omar also visited Willard Park in Minneapolis, which stands to receive a $1.3 million grant to expand and renovate park amenities.
“So much of the work of the National Park Service takes place in local communities through programs like the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “Now in its eighth year, the program leverages federal funds to provide economically disadvantaged communities with the means to create and improve parks, trails, and recreation opportunities. We look forward to providing more grant opportunities like this to states across the country.”
Grants will prioritize projects targeting the needs of underserved communities, provide employment and job training opportunities, and involve and expand public-private partnerships. These prioritizations will rely on a high degree of coordination among all levels of government, developing and improving recreation opportunities for everyone.
For more information about the LWCF, please visit the National Park Service’s LWCF webpage.