RELEASE: Omnibus Spending Package is a Victory for Outdoor Equity for Youth

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Contact: Ian Brickey: (202) 675-6270, ian.brickey@sierraclub.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, President Joe Biden signed the FY2022 omnibus spending package into law. The bill provides much-needed funding increases for vital government agencies and essential services, reversing years of cuts under the previous administration. The package also features important funding for the outdoors and nature access, including support for programs to protect community forests; develop parks and save green spaces in urban neighborhoods; and eliminate barriers preventing children, youth, and families from accessing public lands and waters.

In response, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) released the following statements:

“We applaud the bipartisan support for nature access, climate and conservation workforce, and outdoors funding in the FY2022 omnibus spending package. Hispanic Access Foundation believes we have a responsibility to future generations to leave a legacy of stewardship, clean air and water, accessible nature, and a liveable climate. Latinos need a future where every child can breathe clean air, and every family has green spaces and clean water to play in and make memories,” said Maite Arce, President & CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation.

“We applaud members of Congress for helping us build communities where all people can experience the benefits of nature,” said Jackie Ostfeld, founder and chair of OAK and director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All campaign. “The funding approved today will make it easier for children, youth, and families regardless of race, geography, or income to establish the direct connections with nature that are essential both to life-long health and for developing the next generation of environmental advocates. The programs included in this package are a down-payment on the future of the outdoors, and we are excited to build upon it.”

“At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived. That’s why we were pleased to see bipartisan support for investments in quality local parks, climate and conservation workforce, and opportunities for kids and their families to access national parks,” said Taldi Harrison, Head of Government Affairs at REI Co-op.

“As Latino Outdoors prepares for the inaugural Semillitas (Little Seeds) Outdoors celebration of children in the outdoors at the end of April, we thank members of Congress for demonstrating their commitment to making nature more equitably accessible to kids and families through significant investments in the omnibus package for parks in economically disadvantaged communities, the Every Kid Outdoors program, urban forestry, and more,” said Luis Villa, Executive Director of Latino Outdoors.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE OMNIBUS PACKAGE:

  • $110 million for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program: Communities of color are three times less likely to have access to nearby nature than white neighborhoods, and the parks and green spaces in wealthier neighborhoods are often larger than the parks and green spaces in less-affluent communities. ORLP provides direct support for building new and maintaining existing parks in urban communities that often lack green space and tree coverage.
  • $36 million for the USFS Urban and Community Forestry program, and $4 million in congressionally directed spending for urban forestry projects: Tree planting in urban communities decrease the effects of the climate crisis by increasing tree canopy cover within these neighborhoods, mitigating the urban heat island effect, which can raise temperatures in cities by as much as 10-15 degrees over surrounding areas. 
  • $20 million for activities that support the mission of the Civilian Climate Corps: A new generation of CCC employees could increase access to the outdoors for all, ensuring those who come after them enjoy a direct connection to nature on a thriving planet. Access to nature and spending time outdoors is connected to improving mental and physical health and wellness, and protecting and expanding urban parks and green spaces is vital to achieving the 30×30 goal.
  • Funding and support for the Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) program: EKO currently provides fourth graders and their families with free access to national parks and public lands and waters. Funding for EKO would provide safe transportation for children and families to public lands and waters, offer more robust outdoors programming, and increase access to the outdoors for people with disabilities.
  • $1 million in funding for the CDC Drowning Prevention program.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)

OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors. www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org