Just one week after the 199th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, father of the American urban park, the Department of Interior announced expanded funding for urban public parks. See the press release from DOI.

During the pandemic, the power and importance of parks for our mental and physical health became obvious to us all, so we are mighty pleased by this announcement. Whether we’re talking an Olmsted park or a simple public green-space, we are thrilled to hear about an investment in public spaces for all people.

To ensure greater access to parks and green-spaces, the National Park Service has opened its fifth round of the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) with $150 million in available grants for cities for projects in underserved communities. This round will reach more communities because NPS removed the cap on the number of proposals states can submit and increased the maximum grant amount from $1 million to $5 million. The program gives priority to projects located in economically disadvantaged areas that are lacking in outdoor recreation opportunities. See program details.

We are pleased that the U.S. Conference of Mayors, with the National League of Cities, and Olmsted 200 founding partners National Recreation and Park Association, City Parks Alliance, and National Park Service, hosted a webinar on the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program. You can view the recorded webinar here.

In the webinar, the National Park Service staff reviewed the ORLP program and application process. ORLP projects must serve densely populated Urban Areas as defined by the Census Bureau (populations of 50,000 or more). However, National Park Service staff also touched on the Land and Water Conservation Fund stateside grant program that does not have a population threshold.

The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORPL) program was established in 2014 and is designed to help states and local communities create outdoor recreation experiences close to home. It is part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Program, which was fully funded last year. Learn more: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/lwcf/index.htm

Dede Petri is President and CEO of the National Association for Olmsted Parks, managing partner of Olmsted 200.