Outdoor Access and Connectivity

Kids can't play and learn outside if they can't get outside. Improved access to the outdoors across all socioeconomic groups, and improved connectivity to make sure everyone has the transportation and resources they need get outside, starts to equalize who gets to learn and grow outdoors.

Grant Programs and Scholarships

  • Increase funding and access to scholarships for in need children to attend high quality camps, nature-based learning and outdoor recreation programs both in school and outside school.
  • Increase funding and access to scholarships and grants for teachers to access the outdoors and environmental education curriculums. 
  • Ensure that scholarships and grants are inclusive and accessible. 
  • Increase funding for transportation from schools, camps, and recreation programs to outdoor spaces.

New Mexico established an Office of Outdoor Recreation with an added Outdoor Equity Grant Program. The Office is based in the state Economic Development Department where it will focus on increasing jobs and access to the outdoor recreation economy. The innovative equity component will support outdoor engagement opportunities for low-income youth.

Access Resource Here

REAP provides environmental Education Grants as part of funding for natural and cultural resources. The Conservation Education Program (CEP) is a key provision of the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Act of 1989, and provides $350,000 in grants for conservation education annually. See the fact sheet here. 

 

 

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Policy Opportunities

Raise Awareness

  • Recognize access to the outdoors as a basic right for children 
  • Establish programs or other incentives that encourage kids to get outside

The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation is encouraging kids and families to get outside, be active, and try new affordable and accessible activities. Families can download and complete an activity passport for their children that includes 10 free or low-cost outdoor recreation activities. These activities can be done near their home, at a city park, or on public state and federal land.

More Information

15 states have passed a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, which defines every child’s right to experience fundamental outdoor experiences during their childhood.

See the states here

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Policy Opportunities

Park Passes

  • Provide free or reduced cost passes to state parks or other public lands

Extending the National Park Service’s  Every Kid Outdoors pass, which offers fourth graders free entry for them and their families into national park sites, to be accepted in state and regional park systems.

  • Nevada: Assembly Bill 385 established an independent pass  program for fifth graders, or children ages 9 – 11. Access bill language here.
  • Texas: The Texas state legislature is considering a bill on this as part of the 2019 legislative session. Access bill language here.

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Policy Opportunities

Transportation for Nature Access

  • Community planning supports easy access to natural areas, parks, and trailheads using public transportation or human-powered transport (walking or biking).
  • All students have a safe and accessible path to school that allows for walking or bicycling to encourage time outside.

Complete streets policies require or encourage local and/or state jurisdictions to consider and address the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of all roadways and transit facilities. The end result is that more kids and families can safely get healthy physical activity in neighborhoods and on routes to school. Some states also have a curricula or skills training program. And some states have a fine-based mechanisms to increase driver infractions in school zones and revenue supports safer routes to school.

More information here

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Policy Opportunities

Nature Access for Veterans and Their Families

  • Increase funding and access to scholarships for veterans and their families to attend high quality camps, nature-based learning and outdoor recreation programs for healing and re-connection.
  • Increase funding for greening of military bases, creating parks and outdoor learning areas for military families.

In 2017, state lawmakers in MN passed a provision that allows active military personnel in any branch or unit of the United States Armed Forces and veterans with a service-related disability to receive a free year-round vehicle permit, providing unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. (Minnesota Statutes, section 85.053, subdivisions 8 and 10).

Access Bill Language Here

In 2019, both New York and Oregon introduced legislation that would provide support for nature-based therapy programs for veterans.

Access Bill Language Here

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Policy Opportunities