Chair Has Been Leading Efforts to Expand Equitable Access to Parks and Green Spaces as Part of the America the Beautiful Initiative

Today, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory and Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) toured Jennie Reed Elementary Schoolyard in Tacoma, Washington, as they outlined the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to reducing inequitable access to parks and green spaces as a part of the America the Beautiful Initiative. They were also joined by a representative from Congressman Derek Kilmer’s (WA-6) office.

The schoolyard, designed through a partnership with The Trust for Public Land, Tacoma Public Schools, MetroParks Tacoma, and the community, is part of a six-site pilot green schoolyards program in Tacoma, which will offer students and surrounding communities safe, nature-rich, close-to-home green space. Reducing inequitable access to parks and green spaces is a key focus area of President Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative, a locally-led, nationally-scaled effort to conserve and restore at least 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030.

“We know that the impacts of the climate crisis are felt more acutely by low-income communities and communities of color,” said Chair Mallory. “As part of our efforts to reduce these impacts, we must take steps to create safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities, while increasing outdoor recreation access. Projects like those happening here at the Reed Elementary Green Schoolyard embody the principles of the American the Beautiful Initiative and are examples of the types of partnerships we need to increase green spaces in a just and equitable way for all.”

“Sustainable infrastructure like the green schoolyards project at Reed Elementary can help students thrive, address environmental justice, and make lasting improvements in our communities. I applaud the Trust for Public Land, MetroParks Tacoma, and Tacoma Public Schools for their efforts, and look forward to working with CEQ Chair Mallory, the Biden Administration and community partners to increase green spaces in our underserved neighborhoods,” said Congresswoman Strickland.

“We live in one of the most beautiful regions on the entire planet, yet far too many folks, including a lot of young people, don’t have adequate access to green spaces in their neighborhoods,” said Congressman Derek Kilmer. “That’s why I’m proud to be partnering with the Biden Administration and Rep. Strickland to continue to support projects like the Reed Elementary Green Schoolyard – which aims to increase green space access for kids and adults alike in Tacoma. Programs like the Tacoma Green Schoolyards program and the American the Beautiful Initiative will help more people have access to the parks and green spaces that are important to our physical and mental well-being — and to our communities.”

“Tacoma has the largest park access gap in the state of Washington and our Schoolyards program, starting here at Jennie Reed Elementary, can help bring green space to within a 10-minute walk of more than 40,000 residents across the city,” said David Patton, Northwest Area Director for The Trust for Public Land. “We’re thrilled that Chair Mallory and Congresswoman Strickland are able to visit the schoolyard and hope this project can inspire municipalities across the country to engage in similar efforts.”

Tacoma has the largest park access gap of any of Washington’s major cities. To close that gap, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), Tacoma Public Schools, MetroParks Tacoma, and the community of Tacoma have partnered to renovate the Jennie Reed Elementary Green Schoolyard as part of TPL’s six-site Tacoma Green Schoolyards program. Through this partnership, the schoolyard will be renovated into a community green space featuring an upgraded play area, an outdoor classroom, and more trees and vegetation to reduce flooding and noise and air pollution resulting from the school’s close proximity to I-5.

The visit to the schoolyard marked the end of Chair Mallory’s two-day trip to Washington State to meet with elected leaders, Tribes, and other community members to highlight opportunities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the President’s Build Back Better Agenda to support investments in Tribal communities, sustainable transportation, environmental justice and outdoor equity.

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