Testimony submitted by:
Sally S. Cunningham
National Council of Youth Sports
7185 SE Seagate Lane; Stuart, FL 34997
Phone: 772-781-1452 Fax: 772-781-7298
Guardians of the Land and Water Conservation Fund
United States House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
Statement on The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) And The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR) FY 2004
April 3, 2003
We are members of the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) which is a broad and diverse organization representing more than 52 million boys and girls in organized youth sports programs nationwide. We are also affiliated with Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation another broad and diverse organization representing more than 1,000 park and recreation associations, state and local elected and non-elected officials, conservation and wilderness proponents, the outdoor recreation and sporting goods industries, wildlife enthusiasts, smart growth champions, urban parks groups, historic preservationists, land trust leaders, the youth sports community, and civic groups.
Our organizations' work to communicate to policy makers at all levels of government the value of parks and recreation areas made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the need for support of these sites. This national coalition through its extensive grassroots communications network employs regional and state leaders to coordinate an integrated public education campaign.
We are committed to permanent full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), with an equitable allocation of funds between its federal and state matching grants programs. In addition, we support a revived and substantially funded Urban Park and Recreation Recovery program (UPARR). We applaud the House Appropriators' role in creating the Land Conservation, Preservation, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, passed by Congress in 2000, and believe it is a significant short-term commitment. Accordingly, we support full funding of this program in FY 2004 at its $2.08 billion level.
The organization recognizes the original intent of LWCF as a long-term investment of proceeds from sales of non-renewable resources to acquire land and water within our nation's national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands, and to enhance recreation opportunities at the state and community levels. That is why we support the use of LWCF funds for these purposes but not for programs outside of its legislative mandate. We ask the House Appropriators to protect the traditional priority of stateside LWCF funds for accessible public recreation enhancement.
In asking for your leadership, we believe:
- LWCF and UPARR are programs that return conservation and recreation funds to states and local communities. LWCF has been responsible for more than 38,000 community parks that reflect local concerns and needs. UPARR has been integral to a healthy and safe urban community life through funding municipal parks and creating urban soccer, baseball, and football fields. Collectively, these resources are nationally important.
- LWCF and UPARR encourage and promote healthy lifestyles, an area of growing concern in our country. According to a recent Surgeon General's report, obesity is an emerging health threat to millions of Americans, rivaling smoking as one of the country's most preventable diseases. The report advocates the creation of "safe and accessible recreation facilities for residents of all ages" as a major thrust of its call to action. If funded at appropriate levels, LWCF and UPARR can continue to be instrumental in helping local communities develop this close-to-home recreation.
- LWCF and UPARR promote smart growth and livable communities. LWCF and UPARR are a means to assist intelligent, planned growth, and to curb the detrimental effects of sprawl by protecting lands outside the borders of the city, and making efficient and attractive use of open space within it. LWCF and UPARR empower states and municipalities to accomplish these objectives through leverage by partnering of federal, state, and local funds.
- LWCF and UPARR are critical resources for providing recreation places for America's kids. LWCF has helped communities create more than 7,000 soccer and football fields, 6,000 baseball fields, and thousands of other recreation centers. UPARR provides recreation centers for children in the critical 3:00pm to 6:00pm time frame, providing learning environments where children are tutored and have access to mentors.
Parks and recreation areas funded through LWCF and UPARR are integral components of community life for millions of Americans nationwide. They provide venues for everything from hiking and biking, to picnicking and playing ball. They serve as places for people to gather, gain strength, and affirm their faith in America's core values.
The broad range of groups that comprise NCYS evinces the enthusiastic support for LWCF and UPARR across the country. Funding stateside LWCF at no less than $200 million and UPARR at no less than $50 million will demonstrate to the American people that Congress recognizes the important role these programs have played in ensuring that parks and recreation centers will always be there. This appropriation will advance the goal of a national system of American parks. The time to make this commitment is now.