Congressional Leaders Recognized: National Congressional Awards Highlight Efforts to Support Parks and Recreation

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The NRPA National Congressional Awards are presented annually to U.S. senators or representatives who have advanced the mission of NRPA. Each recipient of the 2007 awards has demonstrated continuing national leadership in efforts to improve or protect the quality and quantity of leisure opportunities through recreation, parks and related conservation programs and projects through action in the U.S. Congress.

NRPA's Public Policy office solicited nominations from all state affiliates and members of the NRPA Board of Trustees (BOT). These entities provided thorough descriptions of how these legislators demonstrated leadership in the U.S. Congress for actions enhancing the recreation, parks and related conservation movement. The NRPA BOT Public Policy Committee voted and selected the winners, who were approved by the NRPA National Awards Committee.

The recipients of the NRPA National Congressional Awards were announced at NRPA's Congress & Exposition held in Indianapolis in September, and the awards will be presented at the congressional reception hosted by NRPA during the National Legislative Forum on Parks and Recreation in March.

The NRPA National Congressional Award helps build awareness on Capitol Hill for park and recreation issues. It also generates support from local communities and develops strong relationships between communities and members of Congress, and connects the great work that NRPA members are doing on the local level with their federal legislators through NRPA national initiatives.

This year's National Congressional Award Recipients are:

United States Senate The Honorable Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)

Sen. Bingaman was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1982. He has been a leader on a wide range of conservation, environmental and public land issues as the chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. As chairman, Bingaman has always played a key role in supporting appropriations for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) state assistance and supported the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, or CARA ACT.

House of Representatives The Honorable Ray LaHood (R-Ill.)

Rep. LaHood was elected to Congress in 1994 after serving for many years as chief of staff for House Minority Leader Robert Michel. LaHood has been a strong supporter of the LWCF state assistance program, and took a leadership role in the reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Act renewal (SAFETEA-LU) for community improvements, bicycle and pedestrian trails, and alternative transportation networks. LaHood provided critical support for the Transportation Enhancements, the Recreational Trails Program and other programs important to NRPA during the transportation reauthorization of 2005. …