State Legislators Celebrate National Get Outdoors Day
On June 12, state legislators from across the country are hitting the trails as part of National Get Outdoors Day. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for accessible outdoor spaces and more than 25 states considered legislation in the 2021 session to increase access and promote outdoor engagement. A full list of introduced bills is available here.
Seven state legislators, from Alaska to Georgia, have joined together to share what the outdoors means to them and why access for all is critical for the future.
Listen to their stories:
State by State
In Nevada, lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the protection and conservation of land and water in the state as part of the growing movement to conserve 30 percent of land and water by 2030. Another bill establishes an Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Program to support the electric vehicle charging infrastructure and energy needs of the recreation economy in the state. Assemblymember Steve Yeager was a co-sponsor of both efforts, and the resolution can be viewed here and the bill can be viewed here.
In Washington, legislators, with leadership from Senator Christine Rolfes, invested heavily in outdoor access and education. This included tripling investment in the No Child Left Inside grant program to $4.5 million, funding a Parks Rx pilot program at $200,000, and funding the Recreation and Conservation Office to conduct an equity review of all grant programs. Washington also became the first state to permanently license outdoor, nature-based child care for preschool and school-age children. The bill can be viewed here.
In Alaska, legislators considered a resolution to establish an Office of Outdoor Equity. State Representative Geran Tarr sponsored the resolution after being inspired by New Mexico’s Outdoor Equity Fund and similar conversations taking place at the federal level. The resolution can be viewed here.
In Indiana, an additional $60 million was invested into the state trail system through state and local appropriations. The full bill can be viewed here. In 2020, Legislators created an Indiana Legislative Trails Caucus and Rep. Carey Hamilton serves as the co-chair. More information about the Trails Caucus is available here.
In New Hampshire, Senator David Watters introduced a bill to expand environmental literacy and outdoor education in the state. The provisions would add environmental education skills, environmental science, and outdoor recreation as part of the education criteria for the state, while including areas for environmental education in new construction. The proposal would also establish a New Hampshire Youth Outdoor Education and Conservation Council. The bill is currently part of the larger education omnibus and can be viewed here.
In Georgia, a bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Senator Sheikh Rahman, established an outdoor learning committee to look at issues and needs associated with outdoor learning. The committee is expected to meet during the interim and provide recommendations to the legislature ahead of the next session. The resolution can be viewed here.
In New Mexico, legislators expanded funding in the first-in-the-nation Outdoor Equity Fund program established in 2019. The program, sponsored by Represented Angelica Rubio, provides equitable access to the outdoors for youth and awarded more than $260,000 in the first grant period. The program is now receiving increased from the state and can continue to receive private funding. The appropriation can be viewed here.