Improved Access to Green Spaces Can Improve Health, Say Legislation Supporters

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Improved Access to Green SpacesThe Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a program that was implemented by the federal government in 1965 to provide a percentage of funds to local, state and federal governments to purchase land and water and to build outdoor recreational facilities.

The LWCF came to an end on September 30, and congress is now debating a new proposal today. The Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Act still allocates some of the funds from offshore drilling to outdoor recreational projects, but on a scale much smaller than its predecessor.

Conservation expert John Gale suggests that the new proposal dismantles an already successful program.

“Every single state has benefited from LWCF dollars, whether that’s to pay for local parks, baseball fields – or in the West, we have tremendous landscapes that have been protected for fish and wildlife habitat, for recreational access like hunting and fishing,” Gale said.

Supporters of the former legislation believe the LWCF plays a role in Americans’ achieving better health. They cite studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggest Americans would be encouraged to get more physically active if there was “improve(d) access to outdoor recreational facilities such as parks and green spaces.”

With 80% of the American population living in urbanized areas, the need for access to outdoor recreation zones is crucial. Further studies have proven the value of exercise at reducing depression, anxiety, and even reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The annual fund from the LWCF comes in around $900 million, although the full amount has only ever been used once. The PARC Act would use 20% of revenues to help retrain gas and oil workers as the American economy converts to clean energy.

According to Gale, the money shouldn’t solely be utilized for that purpose.

“We think the time is now to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund as it exists now and then fully fund it,” Gale said.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Price, B., et al., “Keep Our Cities Healthy,” November 18, 2015; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/policy-dose/2015/11/18/reauthorize-the-land-and-water-conservation-fund-to-keep-america-healthy.
Potter, S., “Congressional Hearing on Replacing Land and Water Conservation Fund,” November 18, 2015; http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-11-18/energy-policy/congressional-hearing-on-replacing-land-and-water-conservation-fund/a49032-1.

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