Confluence of States Sends Unified Request to Unlock Federal Funds for Nation’s Open Spaces

Co-Chair Nathan Fey Implores Department of Interior Action to Meet Urgent State and Local Needs

DENVER – Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Director Nathan Fey joined twelve peer state outdoor recreation industry offices in advocating for administrative action to restore access to federal funds for America’s outdoor spaces. Faced with unprecedented levels of participation, open spaces across the county have run into an administrative paradox presented by the absence of matching funds necessary to access the vital federal dollars that historically support maintenance and investment.  

“America’s open spaces play a vital role in our nation’s economic, mental and physical health,” said Fey. “Within this highly budget-constrained environment, it’s critical to unlock badly needed investment for state and local parks, trails and open spaces.”

For 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been a vital funding source for state and local parks, playgrounds, hiking and biking trails, swimming pools, baseball fields, and wildlife areas; however, due to LWCG’s strict federal matching requirements, these funds have been frozen. Millions of dollars sit idly because budget cuts necessitated during the pandemic have eliminated the matching dollars necessary to access these critical funds. 

The Confluence of States sent letters to the Senate Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and Secretary Deb Haaland of the Department of Interior.  

Nationwide, participation in America’s open spaces has surged according to the Outdoor Industry of Association, with running, bicycling, day hiking, bird watching and camping participation rising the most.  This increased participation further strains the long-term impact of the lack of badly needed maintenance, operations and preservation funding.

"During the past twelve months we have seen huge increases in the number of Americans recreating on our public lands and we only see that increasing this year with more RV’s, boats, hiking, climbing and hunting,” said Lindsey Davis, acting executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “This is fantastic for outdoor industry businesses that have seen sales and orders skyrocket, but this increase comes with the dire need to maintain and upgrade the outdoor infrastructure we rely on such as campgrounds, marinas, trails and more. ORR, as an industry partner of the Confluence of States, also urges Congress and the administration to unlock the funds to conduct the necessary maintenance and improvements on outdoor recreation infrastructure that will ensure millions of Americans continue to enjoy the outdoors and boost local and national economies.”

Fey joins the peer states in asking for administrative action through the Confluence of States, a nonpartisan organization developing a national platform to grow the outdoor recreation economy. Fey is Co-Chair of the Confluence of States. 

Confluence of States supports the growth of the outdoor recreation industry economy based on four pillars:

  • conservation and stewardship
  • education and workforce development
  • economic development
  • public health and wellness

“Confluence of States supports responsible growth of the outdoor recreation economy and adhering to the four pillars,” said Fey. “The first of these is conservation and stewardship. Because of the extensive use of public lands throughout the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we care for these lands and one way to do that is through these federal dollars if we can access them.”