DeGette, Fellow House and Senate Members Introduce Bipartisan Bill Expanding National Park Access
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and a bipartisan group of her House and Senate colleagues have introduced a bill providing fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally-managed lands, waters and historic sites, including national parks – more than 2,000 sites in all.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act is meant to encourage kids to get outdoors and experience America’s public spaces while engaging in healthy activity and educational programs.
“The outdoors is central to Colorado's way of life and our economy,” DeGette said. “Today’s fourth graders are tomorrow’s outdoor entrepreneurs and conservationists. Getting these students outside to enjoy our public lands – such as Rocky Mountain National Park or Black Canyon of the Gunnison – will help inspire future leaders to protect these wild places.”
Since 2015, the U.S. Interior Department has offered fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally-managed public lands. The program has leveraged more than $2 million in private donations and volunteer hours and created hundreds of partnerships with schools, non-profits, and private sector businesses to support outdoor education programming and recreation opportunities for underserved youth.
The program also contributed record-setting numbers of visitors to America’s national parks in 2016 as part of the #FindYourPark campaign to commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act codifies this effort into law and encourages increased public/private partnerships between our federal lands, schools and private and nonprofit organizations. This will help leverage additional support while providing for new and more widespread educational opportunities.
The legislation is supported by several national organizations, including the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, YMCA of the USA, Girl Scouts of the USA, Outdoors Alliance For Kids, the National Recreation and Park Association, the National Park Trust, the Trust for Public Land, and the Outdoor Industry Association.
Joining DeGette in its introduction were Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The bill text can be found here.