WASHINGTON, DC –This morning, Reps. Mike Turner (OH-10), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), and Joe Neguse (CO-2) introduced the Parks, Jobs and Equity (PJEA) Act, which would provide a one-time investment to local parks that are struggling due to impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to a survey conducted by the National Recreation and Parks Association, 56 percent of park agencies have seen budget cuts in 2020. The National League of Cities found that 71 percent of local governments foresee significant future cuts.
The PJEA Act would create a $500 million formula state grant program where grants would be rolled out through the Outdoor Recreational Legacy Partnership Program (OLRP), supported by Rep. Turner in the 115th and 116th Congress.
Following the bill’s introduction, Rep. Turner released the following statement:
“Today I introduced bipartisan legislation, the Parks, Jobs and Equity Act (PJEA), that would provide a historic investment to help local parks recover from the pandemic and retain and create jobs in our communities. With coronavirus shutdowns, more than half of our country's park agencies suffered from budget cuts in 2020," said Congressman Mike Turner. "Now more than ever, we must support our local parks so that they can continue to serve as beloved centers of socially distanced, outdoor activities in our communities.”
The Five Rivers MetroParks system has been a long-time beneficiary of the OLRP program that will administer the stimulus grants. Five Rivers MetroParks Executive Director Becky Benná stressed the importance of this investment for local parks:
“Five Rivers MetroParks provides more than 16,000 acres of open space, trails, and outdoor recreational amenities to Miami Valley residents and visitors. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Five Rivers MetroParks has experienced a tremendous increase in park attendance, as it has continued to keep its parks and trails open to the community for physical exercise, stress reduction and to connect with nature,” said Benná. “There were approximately 3.8 million visits to our MetroParks in 2020. Like other organizations, access to funding sources has been negatively impacted during this time of economic uncertainty and unemployment. It is extremely important to continue to provide these essential services to Miami Valley residents." Benná concluded, "The Parks, Jobs and Equity Act will help ensure these vital services continue to be available to the community.”
The Parks, Jobs and Equity Act, if enacted, is estimated to create more than 8,000 new jobs, add $1.37 billion to local economies, and fund more than 1,000 new or upgraded local parks. The PJEA program will also preserve 100,000 at-risk local seasonal jobs through investments in recreation services.
The PJEA Act is supported by a coalition of 200+ national, regional, and local park and recreation organizations, including the Vet’s Voice Foundation, People for Bikes, and the National Parks and Recreation Association.
Congressman Turner has a strong record of advocating for local parks, which have an enormous impact on the Dayton area community and economy. According to the national Trust for Public Lands, 78% of Dayton citizens live within a 10-minute walk of a park.
Rep. Turner supported the Great American Outdoors Act, which supported more than 100,000 U.S. jobs and supported park infrastructure improvements to help address delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service.