Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Power of Grassroots Advocacy

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Power of Grassroots Advocacy

Article excerpt

When the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program for Fiscal Year 2004 was threatened by action of a House Appropriations subcommittee this summer, parks and recreation advocates stepped up like never before to educate their senators and representatives on the value of TE projects in their communities. When all was said and done, a remarkable victory was won on the House floor on Sept. 4. By a resounding vote of 327-90, an amendment that restored the guaranteed set-aside for TE project funding was approved.

A key to this surprising legislative victory was the grassroots, prairie-fire response that park and recreation supporters mounted against the House Appropriations Committee's calculated attempt to starve the TE program of funds. Hiking, bicycling and rails/ trails groups, community health organizations, and many others in a truly diverse coalition expressed their collective, support for the benefits of the TE program.

It is clear in retrospect that nearly every House of Representatives member heard from citizens and advocates in his or her district about how valuable and important the projects were to their district.

The community level support for the Transportation Enhancements program from park and recreation supporters was a key component to reversing the vote, and Capitol Hill took notice. NRPA has received thanks and commendation from many quarters. Here is a sampling:

   "This was a critical victory in Congress,
   and it happened because an incredible
   array of organizations recognize the
   importance of TE and came together to
   save it. … 
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