The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is commending the recent announcement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of an almost $800 million investment in climate-smart infrastructure, saying the move is “crucial to healthy outdoor recreation economies.”
On Earth Day, April 22, USDA announced it is investing in climate-smart infrastructure to support better access to safe water and clean energy for disadvantaged communities in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
“High-quality trails, campgrounds, marinas, and other recreation infrastructure projects are crucial to healthy outdoor recreation economies, as are renewable energy and energy efficiency, rural services and utilities, water quality, high-speed broadband access, and much more. These critical investments ensure that our nation’s recreation destinations can thrive while mitigating their impacts on a changing climate and ensuring sustainable access for generations to come,” said ORR President Jessica Turner in a published statement.
“The outdoor recreation industry applauds these investments in communities across the nation that will improve the quality of life and opportunities for all who live in them,” she added.
Turner also sees an opportunity to connect the investments to new charging infrastructure in recreational areas.
Through the Electric Loan Program and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the new investment will allow the USDA to allocate $787 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 36 states to lower energy costs and fund energy-efficiency improvements for agricultural producers, rural small business owners, and residents.
Those in rural communities in 17 states, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico hit by severe weather will also benefit from the $12 million USDA is investing under the Community Facilities Disaster Grants Program and the Water and Waste Disposal Disaster Loan and Grant Program. The investment will increase the communities’ access to safe water and sanitary waste disposal services as well as allow them to be better prepared when disaster strikes.
According to a press release, USDA’s announcement is part of the Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, where the administration ensures that federal resources reach all rural communities. The nearly $800 million investment also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.