Text: H.R.6426 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (11/18/2010)


111th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 6426

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out programs and activities for connecting children and families with the outdoors.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
November 18, 2010

Mr. Kind introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out programs and activities for connecting children and families with the outdoors.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title; table of contents.

(a) Short title.—This Act may be cited as the “Moving Outdoors in Nature Act of 2010”.

(b) Table of contents.—The table of contents of this Act is as follows:


Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Grants for development or implementation of Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategies.

Sec. 4. National strategy for connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors.

Sec. 5. National evaluation of health impacts.

Sec. 6. Technical assistance and best practices.

Sec. 7. Definitions.

Sec. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Children today are spending less time outdoors than any generation in human history, as evidenced by studies that show children enjoy half as much time outdoors today as they did just 20 years ago and children spend more than 7½ hours every day in front of electronic media.

(2) Experiencing our Nation’s natural splendor contributes to healthier lives for all Americans and a deeper appreciation for the outdoors, and those who take advantage of the opportunities afforded them in the outdoors generally live longer, healthier, fuller lives than those who do not.

(3) Hunters and anglers play a critical role in reconnecting young people with nature, protecting our natural resources, and fostering a lifelong understanding of the value of conserving the natural world. As children become more disconnected from the natural world, the hunting and angling conservation legacy of America is at risk.

(4) Research demonstrates that hunters who become engaged in hunting as children are among the most active and interested hunters as adults. The vast majority of hunters report they were introduced to hunting between the ages of 10 and 12, and the overwhelming majority of children are introduced to hunting by an adult.

(5) The health of our children is at risk as evidenced by the growing obesity crisis where, over the last 20 years, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled and the adolescent obesity rate has tripled.

(6) Spending time outdoors in nature is beneficial to our children’s physical and mental health and has been proven to decrease symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), improve motor skills, result in a better sleep, reduce stress, increase creativity, improve mood, and reduce children's risk of developing myopia.

(7) Kids who play outdoors are generally more physically fit than those who spend the majority of their time inside, and children who play outside in natural areas have a statistically significant improvement in motor fitness with better coordination, balance, and agility.

(8) The richness and novelty of being outdoors stimulates brain development, and research indicates that direct, ongoing experience of nature in relatively familiar settings remains a vital source for children’s physical, emotional, and intellectual development.

(9) Research indicates that spending time outdoors reduces the severity of symptoms of children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and even short walks in urban parks increase concentration and lessen other attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder-related symptoms.

(10) Children who spend time playing outside are more likely to take risks, seek out adventure, develop self-confidence, and respect the value of nature, and green spaces outside the home can increase concentration, inhibition of initial impulses, and self-discipline.

(11) Time spent in green spaces, including parks, play areas, and gardens, has been shown to reduce stress and mental fatigue, and in one study children who were exposed to greener environments in a public housing area demonstrated less aggression and violence and less mental stress.

(12) Simply viewing nature reduces physiological stress response, increases levels of interest and attention, and decreases feelings of fear, anger, and aggression.

(13) A direct childhood experience with nature before the age of 11 promotes a long-term connection to nature, a connection that is currently dwindling as children spend half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago.

(14) Resource stewardship is more challenging without a strong sense of connection to the natural world, and as visitation to public lands has declined or remained flat in recent years and children spend less time outdoors on private lands as well, that connection is being lost.

(15) It takes many dedicated men and women to work to preserve, protect, enhance, and restore America's natural resources, and with an aging workforce in the natural resource professions, it is critical for the next generation to have an appreciation for nature and be ready to take over these responsibilities.

(16) Over the past several years, urbanization, changing land use patterns, increasing road traffic, and inadequate solutions to addressing these challenges in the built environment have combined to make it more difficult for many Americans to walk or bike to schools, parks, and play areas or experience the natural environment in general.

(17) Natural play areas, greenways, accessible trails, backyard wildlife habitats, and other green features of the built environment provide children the opportunity to experience nature in their communities and close to home.

(18) Conservation education and outdoor recreation experiences like camping, hiking, boating, hunting, fishing, archery, recreational shooting, wildlife watching, and others are critical to engaging young people in the outdoors.

(19) Parks and recreation, youth-serving, conservation, health, education, and built-environment organizations, facilities, and personnel provide critical resources and infrastructure for connecting children and families with nature.

(20) Research has shown that military children and families are facing increased stress and mental strain and challenges due to multiple, extended deployments. Military family service organizations have developed programs that connect military children and families with positive, meaningful outdoor experiences benefiting mental and physical health, but they lack sufficient resources to meet increasing demand.

(21) States nationwide and their community-based partners have some notable programs that connect children and families with nature; however, most States lack sufficient resources and a comprehensive strategy that effectively engages State agencies across multiple fields.

(22) States need to engage in a cross-sector agency and nonprofit approach that involves public health and wellness, parks and recreation, transportation and city planning, and others focused on connecting children and families with the outdoors to increase coordination and effective implementation of the policy tools and programs that a State can bring to bear to provide healthy outdoor opportunities for children and families.

SEC. 3. Grants for development or implementation of Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategies.

(a) In general.—The Secretary may award competitive grants or cooperative agreements to eligible entities to develop and implement a 5-year State strategy, to be known as a Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy, for connecting children and families with the outdoors.

(b) Submission and approval of strategies.—

(1) APPLICATIONS.—An application for a grant under subsection (a) shall—

(A) be submitted not later than 120 days after the Secretary publishes guidelines under subsection (f)(1); and

(B) include a Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy meeting the requirements of subsection (c) or a proposal for development and submission of such a strategy.

(2) APPROVAL OF STRATEGY; PEER REVIEW.—Not later than 90 days after submission of a Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy, the Secretary shall approve or recommend changes to the strategy. The Secretary shall carry out the preceding sentence through a peer review process that includes participation from Federal, State, and local government and from nongovernmental entities.

(3) STRATEGY UPDATE.—An eligible entity receiving funds under this section shall update its Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy not less than every 5 years to reflect any changes and modifications.

(c) Comprehensive strategy requirements.—The Secretary may approve a Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy under subsection (b)(2) only if the strategy includes the following:

(1) A description of how the eligible entity will connect children, youth, and families to the outdoors through State and local—

(A) public health systems;

(B) public parks and recreation systems;

(C) public transportation and city planning systems; and

(D) other public systems that connect children, youth, and families to the outdoors.

(2) A description of how the eligible entity will connect existing governmental systems to networks of nongovernmental partner organizations serving children, youth, and families.

(3) A description of how State agencies, such as State departments of health, natural resources, environmental quality, fish and wildlife, national guard, and transportation, will collaborate with each other and nongovernmental organizations and local agencies to implement the strategy.

(4) A description of how funding will be spent through local planning and implementation grants under subsection (d).

(5) A description of how the eligible entity will evaluate the effectiveness of, and measure the impact of, the strategy.

(6) A description of how the eligible entity will provide opportunities for public involvement in developing and implementing the strategy through a public comment period, public hearings, or other means.

(d) Local planning and implementation.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—A Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy shall provide for—

(A) local planning; and

(B) subgrants by the grant recipient under subsection (a) to local entities to implement the strategy through one or more of the activities described in paragraph (2).

(2) PROGRAM ACTIVITIES.—The activities described in this paragraph are the following:

(A) Outdoor recreation programs and activities that engage children, youth, and families in healthy, active time outdoors through camping, hiking, wildlife watching, and other recreational activities that teach skills for lifelong participation in outdoor activities.

(B) Youth mentoring and outdoor recreation programs and activities that engage participants in hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and archery.

(C) Public health initiatives to educate parents and caregivers about the health benefits of active time outdoors to fight obesity and increase the quality of life for children, youth, and families.

(D) Creation of natural play areas within communities, as defined by nationally recognized guidelines, to provide opportunities for safe outdoor play in natural environments at daycare and afterschool childcare sites, schools, parks, recreation centers, camps, libraries, military installations, and other areas.

(E) Development of trails and greenways to safely connect parks and outdoor recreation areas with military installations, daycare and afterschool childcare sites, schools, and communities through trail systems that encourage walking, biking, and increased time outdoors by children, youth, and families.

(F) Creation of outdoor learning environments such as schoolyard, community, or backyard wildlife habitats or gardens.

(G) Environmental sustainability and conservation education and interpretation programs and activities that engage children, youth, and families in learning and physical activity in the outdoors.

(H) Service learning and volunteer opportunities to help restore natural areas, maintain recreational assets, and engage children, youth, and families in the outdoors.

(I) Promotional activities that promote the benefits of time spent outdoors and invite children, youth, and families to enjoy the outdoors by visiting nearby public and private lands.

(J) Initiatives that engage health professionals, pediatricians, educators, daycare instructors, afterschool program providers, camp directors, community planners, local planning commissions, homeowners associations, environmental professionals, military, law enforcement, and business leaders in identifying innovative solutions to connecting children, youth, and families with nature.

(e) Priority.—In making grants under subsection (a) and subgrants under subsection (d)(1)(B), the Secretary and the recipient of a grant under this section shall give preference to entities that serve individuals who have limited opportunities to experience nature, including those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged or have a disability.

(f) Guidelines.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and after notice and opportunity for public comment, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register guidelines on the implementation of this Act, including guidelines for—

(1) developing and submitting strategies under subsection (b); and

(2) technical assistance and dissemination of best practices under section 6.

(g) Reporting.—Not later than 2 years after the Secretary approves the Moving Outdoors in Nature State Strategy of an eligible entity receiving funds under this section, and every year thereafter, the entity shall submit to the Secretary a report on the implementation of the strategy based on the entity’s evaluation and assessment of meeting the goals specified in the strategy.

(h) Allocation of funds.—An eligible entity receiving a grant under subsection (a) for a fiscal year—

(1) may use not more than 5 percent of the grant funds for administrative expenses; and

(2) shall use at least 95 percent of the grant funds for local planning and subgrants to local entities under subsection (d).

SEC. 4. National strategy for connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors.

(a) In general.—Not later than September 30, 2011, the President of the United States, in cooperation with Federal departments and agencies, shall develop and issue a national strategy for connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. Such strategy shall include, but not be limited to—

(1) identification of barriers to children, youth, and families spending healthy time outdoors and specific policy solutions to address those barriers;

(2) identification of opportunities for partnerships with States, cities, counties, municipalities, entities of local government, park and recreation departments or districts, school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations to connect children, youth, and families with the outdoors;

(3) coordination of efforts among Federal departments and agencies to address the impacts of children and families spending less time outdoors on—

(A) public health, including childhood obesity and attention deficit disorders;

(B) the future of conservation in the United States; and

(C) the economy;

(4) identification of ongoing research needs to document the health, conservation, economic, and other outcomes of implementing the national and State strategies;

(5) coordination with State Moving Outdoors in Nature Strategies; and

(6) an action plan for implementing the strategy at the Federal level.

(b) Strategy development.—

(1) PARTICIPANTS.—In developing the national strategy in subsection (a), the President shall engage—

(A) representatives of Federal, State, and local government;

(B) business, industry, and military leaders;

(C) representatives of nonprofit organizations;

(D) educators;

(E) medical professionals;

(F) representatives of recipients of grants or subgrants under section 3; and

(G) such other persons as the President determines appropriate.

(2) PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.—Throughout the process of developing the national strategy in subsection (a), the President shall provide for public participation that includes, but not be limited to—

(A) a national summit of participants as defined in subsection (b)(1) with demonstrated expertise in connecting children and families with the outdoors;

(B) listening sessions across the country; and

(C) opportunities for the public to submit ideas, recommendations, and comments through various written and electronic methods.

(c) Updating the national strategy.—The President shall update the national strategy not less than 5 years, and every 5 years thereafter, after the date the first national strategy is issued pursuant to subsection (a). In updating the strategy, the President shall, among other things, incorporate results of the evaluation under section 5.

SEC. 5. National evaluation of health impacts.

The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for—

(1) the development of recommendations for appropriate evaluation measures and criteria for developing a study of national significance on the health impacts of the programs under this Act; and

(2) the administration of such a study.

SEC. 6. Technical assistance and best practices.

The Secretary shall—

(1) provide technical assistance to grantees under section 3 through agreements with national organizations with a proven track record of connecting children to the outdoors; and

(2) disseminate best practices that emerge from strategies funded under this Act.

SEC. 7. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) The term “eligible entity” means—

(A) a State; or

(B) a consortium of—

(i) a State, city, county, municipality, entity of local government, park and recreation department or district, school district, institution of higher education, or nonprofit organization; and

(ii) any combination of entities specified in clause (i).

(2) The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Interior.

(3) The term “State” means any of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, any other territory or possession of the United States, or any Indian tribe.

SEC. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

(a) In general.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this Act—

(1) $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2011;

(2) $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2012;

(3) $100,000,000 for fiscal year 2013; and

(4) such sums as may be necessary for subsequent fiscal years.

(b) Limitation.—Of the amounts made available to carry out this Act for a fiscal year, not more than 5 percent may be made available for carrying out section 6.

(c) Supplement, not supplant.—Funds made available under this Act shall be used to supplement, and not supplant, any other Federal, State, or local funds available for activities that connect children, youth, and families to the outdoors.