Collins introduces bill to expand outdoor urban spaces across nation

With 100 million people across the nation not having a park within a half-mile from home, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) recently offered a bipartisan, bicameral bill to increase outdoor recreational opportunities, particularly in America’s urban and low-income communities. 

Sen. Collins on Feb. 15 signed on as the lead original cosponsor of the Outdoors for All Act, S. 448, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) to codify the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program in federal law to ensure that federal funds go to communities without adequate access to local parks, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. 

“Many Americans, particularly those living in urban and low-income areas, lack access to outdoor green spaces that give them the ability to experience the beauty of nature close to home,” Sen. Collins said. “The bipartisan Outdoors for All Act would invest in these communities to support parks, playgrounds, trails, and other projects to help ensure Americans have outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Congress established the ORLP program in 2014 to support urban parks in underserved communities across the country. Administered by the National Park Service and funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the ORLP program improves and funds new trails, green spaces, playgrounds, and cultural gathering spaces, among other areas, the summary says.

“Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’ve experienced how people living in cities often lack adequate park space, an injustice that negatively impacts our communities and our environment,” said Sen. Padilla. “Everyone deserves access to our outdoor public spaces regardless of zip code.”

Seventeen other original cosponsors joined Sen. Collins in introducing S. 448, which is the companion bill to the same-named H.R. 1065, introduced on Feb. 17 by U.S. Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) and Mike Turner (R-OH) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Numerous organizations endorsed the Outdoors for All Act, including the Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, Trust for Public Lands, the National Recreation and Park Association, the City Parks Alliance, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the American Heart Association, among many others.