Energy & Environment

Porter urges increased budget for children’s National Parks program

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Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee’s oversight subcommittee, called on the House Appropriations Committee to increase the budget of a program aimed at increasing children’s access to national parks.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter to Committee Chair Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and ranking member David Joyce (R-Ohio), Porter called for the panel to appropriate $25 million to the National Park Service’s Every Kid Outdoors program. The funding request would represent a $5 million increase from the $20 million requested in previous presidential budgets since the program was established in 2015.

“With proper funding, this program has the potential to dramatically increase access to parks, historical sites, and other public lands,” Porter wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill. “An appropriation of $25 million would help more than one million children each year visit our national parks, launch targeted programs for underserved communities and children with disabilities, and provide the transportation that is the greatest barrier to park access.”

In her letter, Porter called the $20 million request insufficient, noting that it “currently reaches a mere 200,000 children per year.” The additional funds, she wrote, could provide transportation for up to one million children in underserved areas and communities.

“National Parks should be accessible to all American families and children, which is why we request an additional $5 million for outreach and programs for youth with disabilities,” Porter added.

The California Democrat specifically cites the cost of the coronavirus pandemic to outdoor recreation, potentially harming children’s social development.

“There is a palpable desire among families and their young kids to get outdoors,” she wrote. “This program will encourage them to do so, promoting our economic recovery in the process.”

The letter comes the same week as Porter’s inaugural hearing as chair of the subcommittee exploring obstacles to accessibility for disabled visitors to national parks.

“[R]ather than this binary, wheelchair-no wheelchair, people need a whole range of information to accommodate the whole range of different abilities,” Porter said. “This seems like a fixable problem to me.” 

Tags Chellie Pingree David Joyce Katie Porter national parks
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