Category Archives: Media Releases

Release: House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Get Children Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org

House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Get Children Outdoors

Washington, DC — Today, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle came together to pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act, to help get our kids outdoors. The bill, introduced by Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA-03), Scott Tipton (R-CO-03), and Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), would encourage fourth graders and their families to visit America’s natural, cultural, and historical treasures. The bill authorizes the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to administer a pass program to provide free entry for fourth graders and their families to visit our national public lands, waters, and shores. The companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

In response to the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statements:

“The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a powerful way to make it easier for youth to explore our parks and public lands. Exposure to outdoor experiences helps encourage a lifelong sense of adventure and respect for the environment, something we value deeply at The North Face. Together with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we’re thrilled to see the legislation pass, helping create opportunity for young people and their families to experience our parks and public lands.” – Arne Arens, President, The North Face

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor, child-directed play in our natural world.” – Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood

“National Park Trust thanks the members of the House of Representatives for their bipartisan support of the Every Kid Outdoors Act which will encourage all 4th grade children and their families to explore and discover our parks, public lands and waters. Only when our children experience the beauty of the great outdoors will they understand the importance of preserving and protecting these treasured places.”   Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

“We applaud Congress for approving the Every Kid Outdoors Act which allows fourth graders and their families to visit our parks, monuments and other public lands at no charge.  This program is part of a vital national effort to break down barriers and connect more young Americans with wild places. Our public lands belong to all of us, and this Act helps kids to visit and discover America’s unique outdoor wonders.”  – Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society

“American Hiking Society applauds the bipartisan passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act by the House of Representatives. Providing free public lands access to fourth graders across the country will introduce the next generation to outdoor recreation and foster lifelong service to and enjoyment of our most treasured natural resource.” – Kathryn Van Waes, Executive Director, American Hiking Society

“Every child deserves the opportunity to experience nature and the outdoors through our nation’s parks and open spaces. Thank you to the U.S. House of Representatives for putting us one step closer to making this a reality through the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which we proudly support.” – Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO

“Whether a family outing, a school trip or a day at camp, time spent outdoors helps kids develop a sense of belonging in nature and an appreciation of the importance of preserving our lands and water. Our national parks and public lands are unrivaled as spaces where kids can connect with nature and grow their love of the outdoors. We applaud the passage of The Every Kid Outdoors Act which will enable youth-serving organizations like the Y to create powerful community partnerships focused on ensuring all kids, regardless of their circumstances, can experience the wonder of these national treasures.” – Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

“We are so pleased that the House of Representatives has approved the Every Kid Outdoors Act which will make Every Kid in a Park a permanent program. In its almost three years of existence, this program had opened the door to the natural beauty of the nation’s parks for countless children, helping them to stay physically active and healthy. With the passage of this legislation, the admirable work of this wonderful public-private partnership can continue and provide opportunities for many more kids to savor the great outdoors through our national parks and public lands.” – Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association

“The Trust for Public Land, which creates parks and protects land for people, is grateful for Congress’ support of this vital program, which provides children the opportunity to experience our national treasures, often for the first time. Efforts like the Every Kid Outdoors Act to connect children with nature are critical to ensuring that the next generation will have access to parks and green spaces within a 10-minute walk of home.” – Kathy DeCoster, Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, The Trust for Public Land

“Every kid should have access to the physical, emotional and social health benefits of getting outdoors – but today’s kids spend more time indoors than any generation in history. With the passage of the Every Kid in a Park Act, we can begin to overcome some of the structural barriers that keep kids from low-income families and communities of color from having access to outdoor play.  We applaud Congress for its bipartisan leadership on this issue and encourage the U.S. Senate to join their colleagues in the House to ensure this program for generations to come.” – Jackie Ostfeld, Outdoors Director for Sierra Club and Founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

 

OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS LAUNCHES AFFILIATE PARTNERSHIP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Washington, D.C., — The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced today that it will be launching an affiliate partnership with OAK members California Outdoor Engagement Coalition and the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative.

The OAK affiliate partnership will help to connect state and local coalitions with OAK’s national initiatives and policy solutions, expanding a network of state, local and national organizations working to promote access to the outdoors for kids and families.

The new affiliate structure will enable OAK to help support solutions led by and for coalitions and impacted communities on the ground. OAK affiliates will also serve as an on-the-ground resource and model framework for fellow OAK members engaged in state and local efforts, providing relevant resources, best practices, and lessons learned.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ work to increase equitable access and connect youth with the outdoors is growing,” said Brenna Muller, OAK Program Manager. “With local affiliates, our national network of organizations will be even more powerful and able to act not just on federal policy priorities, but also local and state initiatives.”

“The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition is honored to be a state affiliate of OAK. OAK is national model of leveraging partnerships to expand equitable access to the outdoors and the Coalition can learn a great deal from their approach to advocating for policies that impact millions of children and families every year,” said Jenny Mulholland-Beahrs, Director, California Outdoor Engagement Coalition.

“Members of the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative are working together to foster the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Casey Andrews, Coordinator. “We are demonstrating success at decreasing barriers and increasing access to public lands for youth of all ages. OAK’s focus on the Every Kid in a Park program, along with their work to sustainably engage youth in upper grade levels, aligns well with our work. We are grateful for the opportunity to join OAK as an affiliate and look forward to this broader collaboration!”

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Welcomes 100th Member Organization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 20, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Welcomes 100th Member Organization

Washington, D.C., — The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) reached its 100-member milestone with the addition of GreenLatinos, a national coalition of Latino Environmental & Conservation Leaders, who joined the alliance in August, 2018.

OAK is also proud to welcome Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Pride Outside as new members of the alliance.

“The movement to ensure that all kids have access to the health benefits of getting outdoors is growing,” said Brenna Muller, Program Manager for the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Together we will work toward a world where playing outdoors is part of every childhood.”

“We believe Latino communities have the right to live in environmentally healthy, just, and vibrant communities, this includes ensuring our children and families have access and the ability to enjoy the outdoors, whether it be their local community park or one of our national natural treasures such as the Grand Canyon,” said Mark Magana, President & CEO of GreenLatinos. “Joining the Outdoor Alliance for Kids will help us move closer to making this a reality.”

“We believe that when children have time outdoor observing and engaging with the natural world, it enhances their executive function, creativity, attention, social-emotional and physical well-being,” said Jean Rogers, Screen Time Program Manager at Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood. “With mobile technology luring kids indoors, OAK’s work to protect and defend environments and programs for kids is essential. We look forward to collaborating on strategies to support families and children get more fresh air and immersion in the great outdoors!”

“We are committed to building LGBTQ community around the outdoors and boosting LGBTQ representation and inclusion outside,” said Hannah Malvin, founder of Pride Outside. “We support relevant, inclusive programming and policies that make LGBTQ youth feel welcome on public lands and in city parks.”

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: After Public Outcry, Department of the Interior Expected to Continue Program for Kids in National Parks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 8, 2018

Contact:  Ginny Cramer, 804-519-8449, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

After Public Outcry, Department of the Interior Expected to Continue Program for Kids in National Parks

Washington, D.C.– Today, the Department of the Interior is expected to announce that despite news reports that the program was in danger of being cancelled, it will continue the popular, successful Every Kid in a Park program. Every Kid in a Park allows every fourth grader in the U.S. to visit their national parks. Since the program began, millions of fourth graders have downloaded their park pass voucher and visited a national park, many for the first time. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids delivered over 15,000 comments in support of the program to Secretary Ryan Zinke, including 1,000 handwritten postcards from children. More than 70 member organizations and allies to the Outdoors Alliance for Kids also called on Secretary Zinke to continue the Every Kid in a Park program in a letter sent this week.

“Thank you to the dozens of organizations who acted to protect Every Kid in a Park, and to the tens of thousands of people across the country who voiced their support, including over one thousand kids who signed postcards about the value of the program,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Today’s decision is a victory for kids across the U.S. The Every Kid in a Park program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving children’s health and connections to nature. Millions in private funding have been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across the United States. Ending this program would have been a big mistake, and we’re glad to see that the Department of Interior will continue to support Every Kid in a Park.”

“Summer is the time to savor the great outdoors and there’s no better place to do that than our national parks. In its almost three years of existence, Every Kid in a Park has opened the door to the natural beauty of the nation’s parks for countless children, helping them stay physically active and healthy,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “We are pleased that the Department of the Interior will continue the admirable work of this wonderful public-private partnership, and urge Congress to pass legislation to make the program permanent.”

“The Children & Nature Network supports efforts to ensure that all children have access to America’s public lands and outdoor heritage. Every Kid in a Park is one such initiative, and we are thrilled that it will be continued so that children and families can experience the natural places we cherish as a country.” – Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

“We are very glad that the popular Every Kid in a Park program will be extended to provide a new class of 4th graders the opportunity to visit our national parks. The experiences the kids have—many for the first time ever—are priceless, helping expand their horizons and connect them with our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. The Every Kid program would not have been extended without public pressure. When the Administration has proposed actions like massive entrance fee increases that would limit access to our parks, Americans have spoken up, demonstrating that ensuring the opportunity for everyone to access our national parks is an important American value. Now let’s work together to make the program permanent and guarantee that not only this year’s 4th grade class, but all 4th graders will have the same opportunity to experience America’s national parks as a rite of passage.” Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy, The Wilderness Society

“Children’s access to parks is essential to building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO. “NRPA applauds the administration’s decision to extend the Every Kid in a Park program, as it teaches children the importance of connecting with nature and protecting our nation’s parks.”

“The Alliance for Childhood supports children’s healthy development, love of learning and joy in living, especially through child-initiated, outdoor play in nature. The Every Kid in a Park program provides equitable opportunities for fourth graders to experience active play in our natural world. Continuing this program will support life changing developmental opportunities for the children who need it most. Together with our OAK partners, we are committed to ensuring the success of this incredibly impactful model program. With bipartisan support, we look forward to working with members of Congress to pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act to ensure the future of the Every Kid in a Park program,” said Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood.

“Of all the programs we’ve had to defend under this administration, never did we think Every Kid in a Park would be one of them. Thanks to the voices of millions of Americans represented by OAK organizations, we are relieved the program will continue to get more fourth graders and their families into America’s national parks. These visits help support businesses in gateway communities and families share invaluable park experiences that will last a lifetime.” –Theresa Pierno, President & CEO, National Parks Conservation Association

“On behalf of the thousands of under-served fourth graders across the country that we support each year, we are delighted that Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior will continue this program for a fourth year. Our students, families and teachers have often shared with us the immeasurable value and importance of this program that provides free access to all of our national parks. These students are our future outdoor enthusiasts and stewards of our public lands and waters,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Release: Congress Acts to Protect Access to Parks for Kids and Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Contact:   April Thomas, 206.321.3850, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Congress Acts to Protect Access to Parks for Kids and Families

Legislation encourages fourth graders to visit national parks and public lands

Washington, D.C.– Today, the Every Kid Outdoors Act passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous, bipartisan approval. The Every Kid Outdoors Act would continue an existing program that ensures every fourth grade student in the U.S. has access and encouragement to visit national parks and public lands. The future of this program is uncertain and may end this year unless Congress acts to authorize it past 2018.

Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) Steering Committee Members issued the following statements:

“Every kid should have access to our national parks,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and Chair of OAK. “Today’s kids are spending less time outdoors than any generation in history. We need the Every Kid Outdoors Act to maintain our kids’ connection with nature, and to protect public health. Thank you to the House Natural Resources Committee for moving this legislation forward and making sure access and opportunities to play, learn, and work on our public lands are prioritized with so much else going on in Washington. With your continued support, we will pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act and ensure access to our national parks for the next generation.”

“Whether a family outing, a school trip or a day at camp, time spent outdoors helps kids develop a sense of belonging in nature and an appreciation of the importance of preserving our lands and water. Our national parks and public lands are unrivaled as spaces where kids can connect with nature and grow their love of the outdoors. The Every Kid Outdoors Act will enable youth-serving organizations like the Y to create powerful community partnerships focused on ensuring all kids, regardless of their circumstances, can experience the wonder of these national treasures,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA.

“Connecting young people to our National Parks and other public lands is a great way to ensure that kids are active, healthy, and happy,” said Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy, The Wilderness Society and Vice Chair of OAK. “We need to do everything we can to connect kids to the great outdoors. The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a key component of OAK’s comprehensive strategy for getting kids outside. The Wilderness Society applauds the House Natural Resources Committee for moving this bill forward.”

“Through our national Buddy Bison School Program, we have seen first hand the many benefits of the 4th grade federal park pass that would be continued through the Every Kid Outdoors Act. The pass has been an effective way to engage students and families across the country with our public lands and waters, many for the very first time,” stated, Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.

“Parks play a critical role in teaching our nation’s youth about conservation and the importance of the outdoors,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO. “Thank you to Congress for taking the first step to ensure every kid has access to our nation’s parks and the benefits they provide.”

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor, child-initiated play in our natural world,” said Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood.

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BACKGROUND:

The existing Every Kid in a Park program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving our children’s health and connections to nature. In the program’s first year, more than two million fourth graders downloaded the Every Kid pass. Over the first two years, nearly $5 million in private funding has been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across the United States.

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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: MILITARY KIDS DELIVER POSTCARDS FROM 4th GRADERS TO SECRETARY ZINKE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 15, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Military Kids Deliver Postcards from 4th Graders to Secretary Ryan Zinke

Washington, DC — Today, 8 military kids and their families delivered postcards from over 1,000 fourth-graders across the nation to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Many of the postcards were hand-signed by children who have participated in the Every Kid in a Park program, which allows every child in the United States to visit their national parks for free in their fourth-grade year. The visit and postcard delivery was organized by National Park Trust and Blue Star Families.

Photo credit: National Park Trust 

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids also delivered 14,000 public comments asking the Interior Department to continue the Every Kid in a Park program, which is scheduled to sunset at the end of the 2017-18 school year unless the Secretary takes administrative action to continue it.

In response, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids Founder and Chair Jackie Ostfeld released the following statement:

“Thanks to the Every Kid in a Park program, every fourth grader in the United States has the chance to visit our nation’s treasured national parks and public lands. This highly successful program is ensuring more kids have a chance to connect with nature. That’s why over one thousand children, including many who have benefited from Every Kid in a Park directly, wrote Secretary Zinke a postcard about the value of spending time outdoors. I hope he will listen closely to their stories about the powerful impact that getting outdoors can have in a young person’s life, and act to continue the Every Kid in a Park program.”

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

RELEASE: National Park Trust, Wilderness Inquiry join leadership of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Contact: Brenna Muller, 202-548-4581, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

National Park Trust, Wilderness Inquiry join leadership of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC– The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the addition of Grace Lee of National Park Trust and Meg Krueger of Wilderness Inquiry to OAK’s steering committee. The addition of National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry to OAK’s leadership team brings a fresh new perspective to the multi-sector partnership to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors. Both organizations bring invaluable experience from their programmatic work serving youth directly in the outdoors. National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry are joining OAK’s steering committee as two year term-members, from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019.

Grace Lee, Executive Director of National Park Trust (NPT) has worked with the NPT board and staff to expand NPT’s mission, which originally focused solely on the preservation of national parks through land acquisition, to include youth programs with the goal of cultivating future park stewards. As a result, since 2009, NPT’s Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day have benefited more than 2 million children across the country.

“I’m delighted to join the OAK steering committee and look forward to working with OAK members to improve access for all children to their local, state and national parks,” said Grace Lee. “It is vital that we connect our youth to the great outdoors — they are our future caretakers of our public lands, waters and the environment.”

Meg Krueger, Wilderness Inquiry’s Education Program Manager, coordinates the Canoemobile program, a roving fleet of Voyageur canoes that travels to over 50 cities and serves 30,000 youth and community members each year.

“Wilderness Inquiry is honored to join the steering committee, and contribute to OAK’s inspiring work as a convening and advocating agency,” said Meg Krueger. “We look forward to complimenting this work with our strength in directly connecting the next generation of environmental stewards to our public lands and waterways.”  

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to welcome Grace Lee with National Park Trust and Meg Krueger with Wilderness Inquiry to the leadership of OAK,” said OAK’s founder and chair Jackie Ostfeld. “All children and youth should have regular, safe and varied opportunities to learn in and about the natural world. National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry are leaders in advancing programs to connect youth with the outdoors and have played critical roles in advancing OAK’s top priorities, including ensuring that fourth graders across America were able to take advantage of the Every Kid in a Park program. The addition of these tremendous leaders brings invaluable expertise to our growing alliance.”

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: CONGRESS ACTS TO PROTECT ACCESS TO PARKS AND EXPAND CAREER PATHWAY PROGRAMS FOR KIDS AND YOUTH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org

Congress Acts to Protect Access to Parks and Expand Career Pathway Programs for Kids and Youth

Legislation encourages fourth graders to visit national parks and public lands; older youth and veterans to find employment opportunities in conservation

Washington, D.C.– Today, the Every Kid Outdoors Act passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources on voice vote as part of a larger legislative package on outdoor recreation. The Every Kid Outdoors Act would continue an existing program that ensures every fourth grade student in U.S. has access and encouragement to visit national parks and public lands. This program is expected to end this year unless Congress acts to fund it past 2018.

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act was also included in the package, and would provide career pathways for youth and young veterans in conservation, particularly veterans returning from deployment.

“Every kid should have access to our national parks,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and Chair of OAK. “Today kids are spending less time outdoors than any generation in history. We need the Every Kid Outdoors Act to maintain our kids’ connection with nature, and to protect public health. And for older youth and veterans, the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act provides a critical pathway for employment in conservation for youth and young veterans while helping to address the growing maintenance backlog in our national parks and public lands.

“Thank you to the House Natural Resources Committee for moving this legislation forward and making sure access and opportunities to play, learn, and work on our public lands are prioritized with so much else going on in Washington. With your continued support, we will pass the Every Kid Outdoors and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Acts and ensure access to our national parks for the next generation.”

Connecting young people to our National Parks and other public lands is a great way to ensure that kids are active, healthy, and happy,” said Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy, The Wilderness Society and Vice Chair of OAK. “We need to do everything we can to connect kids to the great outdoors. The Every Kid Outdoors Act and 21CSC are key components of OAK’s comprehensive strategy for getting kids outside. The Wilderness Society applauds the House Natural Resources Committee for moving these bills forward.”

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor, child-initiated play in our natural world,” said Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood.

“Parks play a critical role in teaching our nation’s youth about conservation and the importance of the outdoors,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO. “Thank you to Congress for taking the first step to ensure every kid has access to our nation’s parks and the benefits they provide.”

“On behalf of Service & Conservation Corps (Corps) around the country, we thank Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva for including the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act (21CSC) in the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act. The 21CSC Act will develop the next generation of outdoor stewards, recreationists, and sportsmen and women and provide new pathways for veterans to transition to civilian life,” said Tyler Wilson, Director of Government Relations for The Corps Network. “We also applaud inclusion of the Every Kid Outdoors Act which ensures opportunities to engage in the outdoors for thousands of kids around the country. Kids need opportunities for safe access to well-maintained public lands and through the 21CSC Act, Corps and their young adult and veteran Corpsmembers, will be better positioned to help land management agencies address the infrastructure and conservation projects needed for expanding recreation access.”

“Through our national Buddy Bison School Program, we have seen first hand the many benefits of the 4th grade federal park pass that would be continued through the Every Kid Outdoors Act. The pass has been an effective way to engage students and families across the country with our public lands and waters, many for the very first time,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.

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BACKGROUND:

The existing Every Kid in a Park program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving our children’s health and connections to nature. In the program’s first year, more than two million fourth graders downloaded the Every Kid pass. Over the first two years, nearly $5 million in private funding has been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across the United States.

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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: After Public Response Interior Department Reverses Course on National Parks Entrance Fee Increases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2018

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584; contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

After Public Response Interior Department Reverses Course on National Parks Entrance Fee Increases
Victory for Kids and Families Everywhere

Washington, DC — News reports indicate that the Department of the Interior will withdraw plans to increase fees for visitors to U.S. national parks. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke had previously proposed to increase fees to as much as $70 per vehicle at seventeen of our most iconic national parks. It appears the proposal is being reversed while the Department of the Interior pursues other options for raising revenue for our national parks. This decision comes following an overwhelming public response and increasing pressure from their representatives in Congress.

In response, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids Founder & Chair Jackie Ostfeld released the following statement:

“The Interior Department’s decision to withdraw its proposal to raise fees in our national parks is a victory for kids and families everywhere. America’s youth are spending more time indoors and less time in nature than any generation in history. Raising fees nearly 200% would have created an unnecessary barrier to entry for many young people at a time when we need to be encouraging our children to explore the natural world.

Time in nature makes us healthier, happier, and smarter. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) believes that all kids and families should have access, opportunities, and encouragement to visit our parks and public lands. In addition to keeping entrance fees affordable for working families, OAK supports measures to encourage participation in the outdoors, such as the Every Kid in a Park program, which offers free admission to fourth graders and their families to national public lands, waters, and shores. This and other pass programs currently support the engagement of fourth graders, seniors, people with disabilities, and active duty military service members in our parks, and help create a legacy of engagement in the outdoors that drives participation and supports local economies.

We appreciated the opportunity to weigh in on the Administration’s initial proposal, and are grateful to OAK members and the more than 100,000 individuals who made their voices heard through the open comment period. We continue to urge the Administration to work with Congress to identify adequate funding for our national parks, public lands, and their ongoing maintenance.”

In December, OAK commissioned a bipartisan national poll to better understand public opinion on the proposal to raise national park entrance fees. The poll found that nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) oppose the proposed fee increase, including majorities across all political and major demographic groups. It also found  that 64% of Americans would be less likely to visit a park if the fees were increased at the proposed rate of nearly 200%. That number spiked to 71% among households with incomes under $30,000. When it comes to funding national parks, Americans overwhelming believe that increasing federal funding (72%) is a better approach than increasing entrance fees (28%).

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.

Release: Bipartisan Poll Suggests Public Less Likely to Visit Parks with Higher Entry Fees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 20, 2017

Contact: April Thomas, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org, 206.321.3850

Bipartisan Poll Suggests Public Less Likely to Visit Parks with Higher Entry Fees
Poll Results Released by Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC– Bipartisan poll results released by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) demonstrate that the public has major concerns with a proposal to raise entry fees at major national parks across the country. The proposed fee increase would affect some of the U.S.’s most beloved parks including Yellowstone, Shenandoah and Joshua Tree. Entrance fees would more than double, increasing to $70 per vehicle from $30. The poll found that:

  • Nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) oppose the proposed fee increase, including majorities across all political and major demographic groups
  • Sixty-four percent of Americans say they would be less likely to visit a national park if fees were increased
  • Among Americans with household incomes under $30,000 per year, who would be most impacted by the fee hike, 71% say they would be less likely to visit a national park if fees were increased
  • When it comes to funding national parks, Americans overwhelmingly believe that increasing federal funding is a better approach than increasing entrance fees (72% versus 28%, respectively)
  • An overwhelming 92% of Americans agree that access to national parks provides kids with valuable opportunities to be active outdoors and learn about the natural world

“Today’s young people are growing up inside, spending less time in nature than any generation in history, with profound consequences for their health and wellness,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Founder & Chair of Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “OAK believes every child and every family should have access and encouragement to get outdoors. This fee hike will reverse years of progress at the National Park Service to make our parks more inclusive and welcoming to kids and families of all backgrounds. If the Administration goes through with its proposal to more than double park entry fees, visiting places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone will be off the table for many kids and families.”

This week the Outdoors Alliance for Kids submitted comments from dozens of member organizations on the proposed fee hike, urging the administration to protect access to America’s national parks and public lands for all children, youth, and families by withdrawing the proposal to increase entrance fees in 17 national parks.

“By any measure, these fee increases are significant, and the American people know it,” said Paul Sanford, Vice Chair of Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Two-thirds of poll respondents oppose the increase. Three-quarters of respondents believe the fee increase will make the parks less accessible and will harm businesses in gateway communities. Nearly two-thirds said these increases will make it less likely they will visit the parks, which strongly suggests the projected increase in revenue will not materialize. Even if it does, the backlog won’t be eliminated for 165 years. For these reasons, we urge the Administration to withdraw its proposal to increase fees.”

The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide between December 13 and 17, 2017. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points.

For a slide presentation of the results, click here.
For topline results, click here.

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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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.