Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Delegates Share Positive Reports from the Hill: Successful Meetings with Congressional Leaders Encourage Members to Continue Advocating for Parks and Recreation

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Delegates Share Positive Reports from the Hill: Successful Meetings with Congressional Leaders Encourage Members to Continue Advocating for Parks and Recreation

Article excerpt

NRPA's meeting room of the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., was abuzz with activity on Feb. 17 as park and recreation representatives from 47 states reported on their meetings with Congressional leaders on Capitol Mill.

Moderated by Lois Finkelman, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, state representatives reported an overwhelming number of positive experiences in advocating support for park and recreation initiatives.

NRPA legislative priorities struck a chord with Congressional leaders from both parties. An important observation was the bipartisan support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund State Assistance Program (LWCF). Leaders on either side of the aisle stood behind "Dear Colleague" letters sent out by Sens. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) and Reps. James McGovern (D-Mass.), Rush Molt (D-N.J.), Pete King (R-N.Y.) to the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees to support the LWCF. The Senate letter asked for more than $90 million for the program, the amount appropriated last fiscal year, while the Mouse letter requested $100 million, based on the average appropriation of the last five years.

Armed with packets of legislative information, many delegates met with their respective leaders in Congress with lists of LWCF projects in their district, ready to discuss details of LWCF funding. Presenters said that such tactics helped them show how LWCF translates into practical projects to benefit citizens on a local level.

James McElhinny, director of Park and Recreational Services for Tualatin Mills Park & Recreation District in Oregon said he met with Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and had a productive LWCF discussion. "Really, we were preaching to the choir, " McElhinny explained.

NRPA delegates also found that Congress was interested in NRPA's indirect association with current hot-button issues. …

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