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Americans Outdoors Act Introduced in Senate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Sally S. Johnson, CSA
Executive Director
National Council of Youth Sports
772-781-1452
youthsports@ncys.org

STUART, Florida. (June 24, 2004) In summary, attached is an important update and announcement of a new bill introduced last Thursday by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) that funds a variety of outdoor recreation programs. The Americans Outdoors Act is a landmark, multi-year commitment to conservation programs that would benefit all 50 states by providing reliable, steady and significant funding for the urgent conservation and outdoor recreation needs of our states and cities.

We will continue to keep you updated on this important piece of legislation that preserves fields and facilities for the benefit of youth sports. At some point we will be sending out an action alert providing instructions on how to create a grassroots network, spread the word, and contact your legislators to support this issue.

For your information, here is the official legislative process: Introduction: A member of Congress introduces a bill and the bill (or resolution) receives a number. In this case it is The Americans Outdoors Act, S. 2590.

Step 1. Referral to Committee.
Step 2. Committee Action. (this is where the bill is carefully examined and its chances for passage are determined)
Step 3. Subcommittee Review.
Step 4. Markup (make changes and amendments).
Step 5. Committee Action to Report a Bill.
Step 6. Publication of a Written Report.
Step 7. Scheduling Floor Action.
Step 8. Debate.
Step 9. Voting.
Step 10. Referral to Other Chamber (House/Senate)
Step 11. Conference Committee Action. (both House & Senate must approve)
Step 12. Final Actions.
Step 13. Overriding a Veto.

This Senate bill complements the work of Rep’s. George Miller (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK), who introduced the Get Outdoors Act, HR 4100, and who previously led a bipartisan team in the U.S. House of Representatives to the passage of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA).

To: Friends of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (and UPARR, too)
From: Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation
Date: 06.28.04

    1. Americans Outdoors Act Introduced
    2. Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Releases FY 2005 Funding
    3. Ten Parks Designated 2004 “21st Century American Heritage Places”
    4. ASAP Petition Drive Launches Enhanced Web Site
    5. Southeast Regional Forum


1. Americans Outdoors Act Introduced in Senate
On Thursday, June 24th, Sen’s. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced a bill that funds a variety of outdoor recreation programs. The Americans Outdoors Act, S. 2590, would provide a permanent funding stream from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) revenues for wildlife conservation, coastal protection, the stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR). The bill would direct $1.4 billion to be spent each year for the authorized programs, not subject to annual appropriation. Funds would be directed to the appropriate federal agencies and states through established regulations authorized in the act.

The bill was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a hearing is scheduled for July 13th.

AHR is particularly enthusiastic about the perceptive recognition in the bill for the urgent need to provide our states, cities, and local communities with a steady funding source. LWCF and UPARR are two effective programs that have been overlooked in the annual funding process. These two programs provide valuable, close to home recreation opportunities, helping to keep citizens physically active and healthy.

Unfortunately, the Senate bill, upon introduction, does not include the federal side of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. However, commitments have been made by Senators Alexander and Landrieu to introduce an amendment to address the absence of the $450 million for federal acquisition programs during the Energy and Natural Resources Committee action on the bill.

The Senate bill complements the work of Rep’s. George Miller (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK), who introduced the Get Outdoors Act, HR 4100, earlier this year. That bill fully funds LWCF and UPARR, among other conservation and recreation programs.

For more information on the Americans Outdoors Act and the Get Outdoors Act: http://thomas.loc.gov/.


U.S. Senate Press Release, June 24, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 24, 2004

CONTACT:
Alexia Poe (Alexander) 202-224-8816
Gina Farrell (Landrieu) 202-224-0088


Sens. Alexander and Landrieu Introduce Americans Outdoors Act

Legislation Would Provide Conservation Legacy for Generations of Americans

Washington, D.C. - Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) today will introduce the Americans Outdoors Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will provide a landmark federal commitment to conservation, coastal restoration, and outdoor recreation.

The Americans Outdoors Act would provide a steady and reliable stream of funding by redirecting a portion of offshore oil and gas revenues to four areas: coastal impact assistance, the state side of the Land and Water Conservation Act, wildlife conservation, and urban parks and recreation initiatives.

“There is nothing more central to the American character than the great American Outdoors. That is why there is such a large conservation majority in the United States," Sen. Alexander said during a news conference on Capitol Hill. "This legislation looks ahead for a generation to make sure we have places to enjoy our outdoors. This bill would fully fund already existing programs for wildlife conservation, which will benefit hunters and fisherman, birdwatchers, walkers, bikers and all Americans who enjoy outdoor recreation. It would fully fund city parks, so children can have decent, clean places to play. It would also protect wetlands.

“The legislation would be paid for by what I think of as a ‘conservation royalty.’ It is modeled after the state royalty for onshore drilling that has been in existence since the 1920’s in which 50 cents of every dollar goes to the state in which drilling occurs. In a similar way, this would create a conservation royalty of about 25 percent for revenues collected from oil and gas drilling on offshore federal lands.”

“The Americans Outdoors Act is a landmark, multi-year commitment to conservation programs that would benefit all 50 states. With this legislation, we can make the most significant dedication of resources to conservation this nation has ever made, and ensure a positive legacy of protecting and enhancing our cultural, natural and recreational resources for generations to come,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Although the federal government has time and again said it would fully fund these initiatives, instead these programs have been shortchanged, under funded or left out all together. It is time to move past that kind of thinking and provide reliable, steady and significant funding for the urgent conservation and outdoor recreation needs of our states and cities.”

Alexander and Landrieu said they would propose an amendment to fully fund the "federal side" of the Land and Water Conservation Fund but only after talking with other senators and developing a consensus.

Here is how the funding would be allocated among the four areas:

  • Coastal Impact Assistance. $500 million to oil and gas producing coastal states to mitigate the various impacts of states that serve as “platforms” for the crucial development of federal offshore energy resources from the Outer Continental Shelf. It also will provide for wetland restoration efforts.


  • “State side” of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. $450 million to fully fund the planning and development of state and local parks and recreation facilities. States would be allocated 60 percent of that, divided equally among all 50 states, the District of Columbia and territories and tribes, and then the remaining 40 percent based on population.


  • Wildlife Conservation. $350 million to fully fund a broad variety of wildlife conservation programs, both game and non-game species, for all 50 states.


  • Urban Parks Recreation and Recovery Program (UPARR). $125 million to fully fund UPARR in the form of matching grants (70 percent) to provide direct assistance to urban localities for rehabilitation of critically needed recreation programs, sites and facilities with the goal of more green spaces, playgrounds and ball fields.



Alexander, chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, served as chairman of President Reagan's Commission on Americans Outdoor, which recommended many of these programs, including offshore oil drilling to fully fund federal and state conservation programs. Sen. Landrieu, a member of the Senate Energy Committee has championed direct and dedicated federal funding for coastal restoration and conservation efforts since being elected in 1996.

The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday, July 13.

A similar bill, called the Get Outdoors Act, has been introduced in the House by Congressmen Don Young (R-Alaska), George Miller (D-Calif.) and Chris John (D-La.).


2. Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Releases FY 2005 Funding

The Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee released its funding allocations for FY 2005. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) fared much better in this chamber: Of the more than $20 billion allocated for Interior operations, $215 million was allocated to federal LWCF and $94 million was given to stateside LWCF. Unfortunately, once again, UPARR was zeroed out in the process. The next step is for the entire Appropriations Committee to pass the bill. That will occur sometime after the Fourth of July congressional recess. That bill will then be “reconciled” with the already passed House bill sometime in the fall. A comparison among some of the programs in the Administration’s budget request, the House-passed funding level, and Senate Subcommittee bill is below:

Federal LWCF Land Acquisition -
Administration: $220 million
House: $0 million
Senate Subcommittee: $215 million

Stateside LWCF -
Administration: $94 million
House $91.5 million
Senate Subcommittee: $94 million

UPARR -
Administration: $0 million
House: $0
Senate Subcommittee: $0

Forest Legacy -
Administration: $100 million
House: $ 43 million
Senate Subcommittee: $ 79 million

Historic Preservation Fund -
Administration: $78 million
House: $72 million
Senate Subcommittee: $71 million

State Wildlife Grants -
Administration: $80 million
House: $68 million
Senate Subcommittee: $75 million


3. ONLY 10 RECREATIONAL AREAS IN U.S. TO RECEIVE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD
First “21st Century American Places Award” Conferred Today

Washington, DC, June 25th - Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation (AHR), a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. dedicated to preserving the Great Outdoors, has just announced the 10 recipients of its 21st Century American Places Award.

The award honors recreational areas across the country that have received assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and emerged as models of recreation and conservation. Of the more than 40,000 national recreational areas funded in part by LWCF, 10 will receive “21st Century American Place” designations in local ceremonies throughout the summer.

Beginning with Big Dry Creek Trail in metropolitan Denver, CO, which will receive the first award today, the honored American places are:

  • Jose Marti Riverfront Park in Miami, FL

  • Sandy Beach Park in Macon, GA

  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, New Orleans, LA

  • New Mexico LWCF Site, NM

  • Gore Mountain in Johnsburg, NY

  • Northwestern Community Center in Dayton, OH

  • Okehocking Preserve in Willistown Township, PA

  • Radnor Lake State Natural Area in Davidson County, TN

  • Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County, WV


“We are proud to honor such great American places. From trail to beach, the 21st Century American Places represent LWCF funds at their finest,” said Tom St. Hilaire, Executive Director of AHR. “At a time when Congress is threatening to cut future funding for parks and recreation, it’s important to demonstrate to Americans what will be lost without this successful program.”

Established by Congress in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped acquire more than seven million acres of land and water for hiking trails, canoeing, soccer fields, and dozens of other uses. Yet funding is threatened by cuts in Congressional appropriations, endangering future conservation efforts nationwide. As a result, AHR has recently launched www.asap2004.org, a major online petition drive to encourage full funding of LWCF.

For additional details about the awards or the petition, or for more information about AHR or LWCF, call 202-518-8047 or e-mail tim@ahrinfo.org, or visit www.ahrinfo.org.

4. ASAP Petition Drive Launches Enhanced Web Site
AHR has teamed up with Plus Three, LP to develop an online activist center for its Americans Saving American Places (ASAP) petition drive asking the President to keep his promise to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For more than forty years, LWCF has been responsible for developing parks, recreation, wildlife, and historic preservation areas. Unfortunately, the funding allocations for the program have never reached their annual authorization level of $900 million. AHR wants to demonstrate the support for this critical program by generating one million signatures in support of fully funding the program. To do that, AHR is working with Plus Three, a telecommunications firm that has 10 years of experience developing solutions in the political, non-profit, telecommunication, financial, and publishing industries.

The ASAP’s enhanced web site has been retooled so that organizations can create their own branded petition where they can keep track of all of their online activists who sign the petition. It’s a good opportunity for organizations to get their online activists engaged in an ongoing campaign that aims to reap more benefits to conservation and recreation projects on the ground. For more information on the petition, go to www.asap2004.org.


5. Southeast Regional Forum
It’s still not too late to sign up for AHR’s “Americans Saving American Places: Joining Forces for the Southeast” summit, scheduled for July 29 - 30, 2004. The summit will be held in Birmingham, Alabama at the Radisson Hotel - Birmingham. Conservation, recreation, wildlife, and historic preservation activists will convene on the afternoon of the 29th to discuss federal funding opportunities and to network and learn from other advocates in the region. For more information, or to register, please email AHR’s Southeast Regional Organizer, Pat Byington, at pkbyington@aol.com.

***************
Tom St. Hilaire
Executive Director
Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation
1300 19th St., N.W.
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
P: 202-454-3370
www.ahrinfo.org