Success Story: Amid Public Outcry, Zinke Extends Every Kid in a Park Program
In response to multiple reports that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was planning to terminate the popular “Every Kid in a Park” program, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition) joined over two dozen other groups in speaking out in support of continuing the program.
Every Kid in a Park was created during the National Park Service Centennial celebration so fourth graders and their families could discover our wildlife, resources, and history for free. It has proven to be a very popular program that encourages school children to experience parks with their families, who might not otherwise to visit units of the National Park System. Due, in part, to its popularity, NPS has continued to offer the program.
Multiple reports indicated that Secretary Zinke believed offering free admission, even to 4th graders, was too costly in terms of lost entrance fee revenue when the NPS deferred maintenance backlog remains around $12 billion.
A diverse coalition of 27 organizations (including the Coalition) issued a strong joint statement, which was widely distributed to media outlets across the country on July 7, 2018, in support of the Every Kid in a Park Program. Following the release of the statement, along with intense scrutiny from many other individuals and organizations, Secretary Zinke announced the program would continue for another year. Once again, the Secretary’s decision to change his mind confirms the importance of the advocacy work that the Coalition and like-minded groups do in support of our National Park System.
Here is the joint statement:
Coalition Deplores Department of the Interior’s Plans to End Every Kid in a Park Program
Groups Call on Secretary Zinke to Abandon “Cruel” Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. — News reports that Ryan Zinke will cancel the Every Kid in a Park program marks a new low for the Department of the Interior. Eliminating this popular program – which helps ensure equitable access to our public lands for 4th graders and their families – is just one more example of Secretary Zinke’s efforts to ensure that our public lands such as national parks, monuments and forests are used only for the benefit of small segments of the population.
This cruel step will disproportionately affect underrepresented communities, reducing equal access to these places and impacting the health, well-being and growth of future stewards of our protected lands.
Every child deserves to reap the cultural and health benefits of our public lands, and to see these lands as their inheritance — for now and into the future. We have a moral obligation to ensure that every child – including children from underrepresented communities and their families – have the opportunity to experience and learn from these special places. Access to America’s parks cannot and should not be the privilege of the few.
We urge Secretary Zinke to abandon this misguided plan, and keep America’s parks open and accessible to all children and their families. We urge Secretary Zinke to keep the Every Kid in a Park program.
The 27diverse organizations that signed onto this statement represent millions of members across the country. These organizations, listed below, have come together to support, protect and defend America’s public lands and the public’s right to access to them.
- Diverse Environmental Leaders
- Youth Outside
- Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
- Voces Verde
- Big City Mountaineers
- Praxis Project
- Latino Outdoors
- Continental Trail Divide Coalition
- Joy Trip Project
- Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK)
- The Avarna Group
- Vet Voice Foundation
- Conservation Lands Foundation
- Hispanic Federation
- Brown Environmentalist
- Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
- The Trail Posse
- Friends of the Earth US
- Green Latinos
- The Wilderness Society
- Center for Western Priorities
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Sierra Club
- Endangered Species Coalition
- Green For All
- American Rivers
For more information about the Every Kid in a Park program, see: https://www.everykidinapark.gov/