September 12, 2018 -- Bipartisan legislation authored by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) that would provide America's fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally managed land, waters, and historic sites, including national parks, overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives today.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act (H.R. 3186)is aimed at encouraging kids to get outdoors and experience America's public spaces, while engaging in healthy activity and educational programs. Additionally, the bill encourages increased public/private partnerships between our federal lands, schools and private and nonprofit organizations.
"Our nation's public lands protect, celebrate, and give access to the many places that have shaped and defined who we are as Americans," said Congresswoman Tsongas, a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee. "The Every Kid Outdoors Act will inspire a new and more diverse generation to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, learn about our country's natural and historic treasures, and fall in love with our public lands and the outdoors. I thank my colleagues for their dedication to this effort and look forward to seeing more kids and their families experiencing these special places."
Since 2015, the Department of the Interior has offered fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally managed public lands. The program also contributed to the record-setting visitation to America's national parks in 2016 as part of the #FindYourPark/Encuentra Tu Parque campaign to commemorate the Centennial of the National Park Service. The Every Kid Outdoors Act codifies this effort into law, which will encourage further collaboration with outside organizations and help leverage additional support, while providing for new and more widespread educational opportunities. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Every Kid Outdoors Act will not result in any additional costs to the federal government.
Congresswoman Tsongas introduced the bill in the House with Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in July 2017. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
The legislation is supported by several national organizations, including the Outdoors Alliance For Kids (OAK), National Recreation and Park Association, Sierra Club, YMCA of the USA, The Wilderness Society, National Park Trust, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Wildlife Federation, Trust for Public Land, and the Outdoor Industry Association.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act now awaits final passage by the Senate before moving on to the President for his signature.
To read the Every Kid Outdoors Act: https://tsongas.house.gov/uploads/FINAL%20Every%20Kid%20Outdoors.pdf
To watch Congresswoman Tsongas floor speech in support of the Every Kid Outdoors Act: https://youtu.be/TwhpY9AyxQc
To read an op-ed piece authored by Jackie Ostfeld, Founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, in support of the bill: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/341918-new-legislation-tells-fourth-graders-to-take-a-hike