California contingent of nonprofits meets with Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA4) on February 16
SILVER SPRING, Md.— More than 130 nonprofit executives and partners visited with their elected representatives on Capitol Hill on Thursday, February 16 to discuss issues of importance to America’s public lands. Public Lands Alliance, in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, organized this day of advocacy, education and engagement.
"Capitol Hill Day provided a great opportunity for PLA members to educate Congressional representatives about the issues facing America’s public lands and the importance of partnerships,” said Executive Director Dan Puskar. “It’s important for Congress to hear directly from the nonprofit partners of public lands who work every day to enrich these treasured landscapes and provide meaningful, educational opportunities to their visitors.”
Public Lands Alliance members addressed many critical issues, including:
Increase Funding for Public Lands
Public lands are anchors for regional and local economies, catalysts for tourism and centers of enjoyment and learning for families. Additionally, America’s public lands have roads, bridges, trails, visitor centers and other facilities in need of major improvements. An aging infrastructure, normal wear and tear, and underfunding by the federal government have created a critical need for repair of public lands. There is currently a more than $13 billion dollar repair backlog.
The Public Lands Alliance members relayed the need to:
Increase operations accounts that fund land managers who maintain facilities and educate visitors.
Increase construction accounts to address maintenance needs.
Reauthorize the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
Enable nonprofit public land partners to play a key role in improving lands and the visitor experience.
Capitalize on Public-Private Partnerships
The Public Lands Alliance encourages Congress to consider legislation that enables federal land management agencies to work more closely with their nonprofit partners. Under current law, it can be difficult for the agencies to leverage the full expertise and capacities of nonprofits to support facilities using private and public funds.
The Public Lands Alliance asks Congress to:
Support legislation that increases the development and long-term success of America’s public land nonprofit partners.
Appropriate funds that incentivize private support for public lands and encourage relationship building between private and public sectors like the National Park Service Centennial Challenge Fund.
Support Youth Engagement Opportunities
Public lands are able to offer free guided experiences, school field trips and residential learning programs through a partnership with their nonprofit organizations. Programs such as Every Kid in a Park and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps play an important role in giving young adults the skills and tools needed to be conservation stewards.
The Public Lands Alliance adds its voice to:
Support legislation and funding to continue the Every Kid in a Park initiative or a new program that achieves similar goals across all land management agencies.
About the Public Lands Alliance
The nonprofit Public Lands Alliance is a network of more than 120 member organizations that serve more than 500 public lands and contribute over $150 million dollars annually to the preservation and visitor enhancement of those lands. PLA members are found in all states and territories and provide operational and interpretive support to every major federal management agency.