Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2021
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited San Diego, Calif. today to kick off a five-day visit to the West Coast as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s “Building a Better America” tour. Secretary Haaland highlighted the Department of the Interior’s efforts to conserve, protect, and increase access to public lands and urban green spaces. During the visit, Secretary Haaland also discussed how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help tackle the climate crisis and protect communities by making once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s physical and natural systems.
“For the 80 percent of Americans who live in or near cities, urban green spaces provide vital access to nature and outdoor recreation, advancing environmental justice while also boosting local economies. Through key initiatives like America the Beautiful, we are working to ensure that every community has a meaningful chance to engage with the outdoors,” said Secretary Haaland. “I believe strongly that getting young people in touch with nature early and often is key to building long-term relationships between communities and their surroundings. If we can help more people access nature – we will help lift up the next generation of stewards for this Earth.”
Secretary Haaland met with conservation leaders, environmental justice advocates, and state and local leaders for a listening session focused on equity in the outdoors. She highlighted how, through the America the Beautiful initiative and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program, the Department is working to improve access to nature and engage new audiences in outdoor recreation and conservation – particularly in communities of color and other underserved communities that historically haven’t had equitable access to nature.
Secretary Haaland also joined San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, and representatives from the California Natural Resources Agency to tour Beyer Park, which is receiving a State Parks grant award to help further build out the park and expand equitable access to the neighboring communities. During the tour, the Agency launched its new Outdoors for All initiative, a statewide effort to produce a roadmap to building equitable access to California’s nature, culture and history.
During the visit, Secretary Haaland underscored the importance of the infrastructure law, which will invest in climate resiliency and infrastructure projects to support communities and protect the environment. The infrastructure law contains several provisions that fund Interior Department initiatives and benefit the communities it directly serves. In addition to historic funding for climate resiliency initiatives and legacy pollution clean-up, the law provides for a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which will help invest in repairing and upgrading National Park Service roads, bridges, trails and transit systems. The law also invests in projects that will help fund bridge replacements and resiliency, repair ferry boats and terminal facilities, and maintain wildlife crossings that keep people and surrounding wildlife safe.