Congressman Gomez and Senator Booker Introduce Transit to Trails Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced a bill in the House and Senate that promotes equitable access to parks, green spaces, and public lands and waters. The Transit to Trails Act creates a grant program to fund projects that make transportation to green spaces and public lands more accessible for critically underserved communities. 

A lack of transportation options often excludes those in underserved communities from accessing our public lands, which are national resources that should be readily available to all Americans. The Transit to Trails Act takes an equitable approach to help communities nationwide with the highest need for better sustainable public transportation options, making access to these public lands more affordable and accessible for all.

“Our national parks and public lands have long been characterized as, ‘America’s Best Idea,’ but that’s only true if they’re accessible to all Americans,” said Congressman Gomez. “As we rebuild from this pandemic, we cannot exclude parks, green spaces, national monuments, and public lands and waters from our public health infrastructure. We value our time outside more than ever now, but for some, there are too many unique challenges and barriers, including limited economic mobility and a lack of public transportation options. The Transit to Trails act will help underserved communities benefit from educational and both physical and mental health opportunities, ensuring everyone – regardless of their zip code – can enjoy the outdoors, from our national parks to neighborhood playgrounds.”

“Despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country’s parks and public lands provide safe opportunities to spend time with loved ones outdoors. Yet low income communities and communities of color continue to face barriers to access due to inadequate public transportation,” said Senator Booker. “Parks, open spaces, and public lands are among our nation’s greatest treasures, and they should be enjoyed by all Americans. By establishing a grant program to fund transportation projects for underserved communities, the Transit to Trails Act will give more opportunities for all to enjoy the great outdoor spaces our nation has to offer.”

“Throughout the country, black and brown people have disproportionately suffered a lack of parks and green space, while bearing the brunt of higher levels of pollution in their air and water,” said Sharon Musa, Policy and Recreation Partnerships Fellow at The Wilderness Society. “The Transit to Trails Act is an important step toward improving the health and well-being of millions of people by making outdoor experiences in nature accessible. This legislation is literally a breath of fresh air for communities struggling with obesity, asthma, diabetes, and other illnesses related to inactivity.”

“The benefits of spending time in nature are universal. Sadly, access to nature is anything but,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All campaign. “Years of disinvestment and failed policies have cut off too many communities, especially working-class communities and communities of color, of the ability to reach our national parks and public lands. This bill will help break down those transportation barriers so that all people can enjoy the outdoors, not just the privileged few.”

"The Transit to Trails Act ensures our public lands are accessible to park-poor communities by funding transportation access to our natural resources,” said Mark Magana, Founding President & CEO of GreenLatinos. “Due to decades of inequitable planning practices, only a third of Latinos live within walking distance of a park, and our neighborhoods are more likely to lack access to walking and biking infrastructure. As a result Latinos have lower rates of physical activity and suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases like obesity, asthma, and heart disease. I applaud this legislation by Congressman Jimmy Gomez and Senator Cory Booker for facilitating environmental justice by reducing barriers between people and access to nature.”

"Everyone should be able to benefit from our public lands, waters and parks. For too long a lack of infrastructure has denied entry to low-income communities and Black and Latinx people,” said Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager for Friends of the Earth.  “This legislation is an important step to ensuring everyone has access to nature."

“The American Hiking Society praises the reintroduction of the Transit to Trails Act by Rep. Jimmy Gomez, which will expand access to public lands for underserved communities by reducing transportation barriers,” said Kate Van Waes, Executive Director of American Hiking Society. “Rep. Gomez's legislation will make sure that the communities that need them most will be able to access trails, parks, and open spaces. Congress must swiftly pass this legislation as part of transportation and infrastructure legislation.”

“While the beautiful state of California has a wealth of public lands, we must acknowledge that these lands are not equally accessible to all residents of the state,” said André Sanchez, San Joaquin Valley Organizer for the California Wilderness Coalition. “This is, unfortunately, the case for both urban and rural communities that are immediately adjacent to public lands. The introduction and eventual implementation of the Transit to Trail Act is an important step in addressing this issue that disproportionality impacts under-resourced communities and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This bill would prioritize areas of high need and fund transportation services to our public lands. We look forward to working with Congressman Gomez to advance this measure and similar efforts to address equitable access to our treasured public lands.”

“Accessing the outdoors may seem as simple as walking out the front door, but for far too many children, youth and families, the doorway has been effectively blocked by decades of exclusive community planning that ignored their transportation needs,” said Jayni Rasmussen, Senior Campaign Representative for Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). “Congress can clear the threshold for the 28 million children that currently lack the opportunity to safely walk or roll to a park with the Transit to Trails Act, which will invest in smart planning and accessible pathways to the outdoors for everyone.”

“Nature for All is elated to work with Congressmember Gomez on the Transit to Trails Act -- and lead field trips outdoors! In Los Angeles County, 50% of our communities are park-poor,” said Bryan Matsumoto, Program Manager for Nature For All. “Nature-deficit disorder is a serious urban issue with rippling societal effects. Poor health and low interest in environmental issues are the result of environmental injustice and disinvestment in underserved communities' access to nature. Transit to Trails programs are powerful, multi-benefit investments that yield great returns - planting the seeds for urban children to keep exploring and become emotionally and physically healthy, curious citizens of the world.”

“The Appalachian Mountain Club is excited to support the reintroduction of The Transit to Trails Act of 2021 to ensure that all communities have not only access to close-to-home recreation and green spaces but also to act as a catalyst for generations to realize their full promise as active outdoor participants and conservation stewards,” said John Judge, President, and CEO, Appalachian Mountain Club.

"The Transit to Trails Act would be immensely impactful to the community, environmental, and economic health of Gateway Communities all along the Continental Divide Trail,” said Andrea Kurth, Gateway Community Program Manager at the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “This legislation would create jobs for Gateway Community residents, improve public health, and give underserved communities the opportunity to enjoy the spiritual, physical, and emotional benefits of public lands near their homes. Working with rural mountain communities, we often find that the very people residing near world-class recreational resources like the Continental Divide Trail often face the most significant barriers to experiencing these places for themselves. More than just an investment in transportation, the Transit to Trails Act will be a direct investment in communities that have been chronically barred from experiencing the wonders and healing that can be found in our open lands and waters."

The Transit to Trails Act has also been included in the landmark Environmental Justice for All Act introduced by Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) and Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04).

The following Members of Congress are original cosponsors of the Transit to Trails Act: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Darren Soto (FL-09), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07).

The following organizations support the Transit to Trails Act: America Walks, American Camp Association, American Heart Association, American Hiking Society, American Motorcyclist Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Trails, Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Arizona Trail Association, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, Avid 4 Adventure, Brown Folks Fishing, California Wilderness Coalition, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Children & Nature Network, Choose Outdoors, Conservation Lands Foundation, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Disabled Hikers, ECOSS, Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park, Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, GirlTrek, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, GreenLatinos, Friends of the Earth, Health Equity Council, Higher Ground, Hispanic Access Foundation, Hispanic Federation, Issaquah Alps Trails Club, Latinos Outdoors, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Recreation and Park Association, Nature For All Coalition, North Country Trail Association, Outdoor Asian, Outdoor Industry Association, OVTA, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Partnership for the National Trails, REI Co-op, Roberts & Associates, Seed Your Future, Sierra Club, SkyDay, SOS Outreach, The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association, The Service Board, The Trust for Public Land, The Venture Out Project, Tiny Trees Preschool, Transportation Choices Coalition, Washington Alpine Club, Washington Trails Association, Young Women Empowered, La Plazita Institute, and the Appalachian Mountain Club.

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