Conservation Groups and Nevada Leaders Applaud Overwhelming Bipartisan Support to Increase Access to Outdoor Education and Recreation

AB128 Will Help Build the Next Generation of Stewards to Nevada’s Environment

CARSON CITY, NV – Today, the Nevada State Assembly passed AB128 with overwhelming bipartisan support, to establish a fund to support the Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program. This fund will provide outdoor education and recreation opportunities for underserved students across Nevada and help build the next generation of stewards of our air, land, and water. In the upcoming days, the bill will head to the Nevada Senate. 

Although Nevada is rich in natural resources and public lands, low-income communities and communities of color face significant barriers to accessing these areas in the state. In 2019, a program was created with the Division of Outdoor Recreation to provide underserved youth in Nevada with high-quality outdoor education and recreation opportunities. However, the program has not received additional funding since its initiation. AB128 would provide a $500,000 appropriation to help seed the program and accomplish the task as initially envisioned. Advocates also highlight the beneficial impact access to parks and other outdoor spaces have on public health and local economies. 

“By securing funding for the Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program, we are building the next generation of stewards of our air, land, and water. This grant program seeks to expose all Nevada students to quality outdoor experiences regardless of background or social barriers. We believe increased access to outdoor opportunities will improve students’ academic performance and physical health while fostering an appreciation of nature.” said Nevada Conservation League’s Deputy Director Christi Cabrera-Georgeson. 

“The well-being of Nevada depends on the well-being of young people. We are one step closer to ensuring that all young Nevadans finally have the opportunity to experience the natural beauty that our state has to offer. Thank you to our state assembly for believing in the Outdoor Education and Recreation Program’s potential to change the lives of countless children. Our public lands are too close to be so far away for working families,” said Angel Lazcano, Environmental Justice Organizer for Somos Votantes.

“We applaud Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui and the Ways and Means Committee for passing AB 128, a significant step towards eliminating barriers and ensuring equal access to Nevada’s lands. The Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program will educate and empower all Nevadans, especially our youth in lower-income communities and communities of color, to connect with and protect our public lands. Our neighboring states already have successful programs in place to secure equal access for all youth, and now is the time for Nevada to do the same,” said Jermareon Williams, Nevada Government Affairs Manager at Western Resource Advocates. 

“The Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program will give our under-served Nevada students the opportunity to experience Nevada’s great outdoors while promoting education and health. This bill was meant to help those students who were having the hardest time academically because we all know that being outdoors can restore mental health, and increase focus and attention. Since its passing in 2019, the program has only been funded with the money raised by the sponsor during a fundraising event. This bill is ultimately asking for funding that will help improve academic achievement and create an appreciation of nature for underserved Nevada students,” said Majority Floor Leader Sandra Jauregui.

“Climate justice is not only about protecting the environment, it’s also about ensuring that all Nevadans have equal access to the great outdoors. As legislators, we must work towards a future where all kids have a fair chance of enjoying the many benefits of outdoor recreation and education. The choices we make this session will have a profound impact on the environment we leave behind for future generations and the tools they’ll have to protect it,” said Speaker of the Assembly Steve Yeager.

According to The Nature Gap, a Center for American Progress report, three-fourths of large numbers of families of color with children live in nature-deprived places. If passed, AB128 will ensure that disproportionately impacted communities are able to more equitably enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors, improve student health outcomes, and benefit Nevada as a whole. 

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