IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
November 3, 2011
Mr. Udall of Colorado (for himself, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Merkley, and Mr. Bennet) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to carry out programs and activities that connect Americans, especially children, youth, and families, with the outdoors.
This Act may be cited as
Healthy Kids Outdoors Act of
Congress finds as follows:
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, while spending more than 7½ hours every day in front of electronic media.
The health of our children is at risk as evidenced by the growing obesity crisis where, during the 20-year period between 1991 and 2011, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled and the adolescent obesity rate has tripled, costing the economy of the United States billions of dollars each year.
Our military readiness is declining as nearly 1 in 4 applicants to the military is rejected for being overweight or obese, which is the most common reason for medical disqualification.
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 that benefit mental and physical health, but they lack sufficient resources to meet increasing demand.
In addition to the negative economic impact of childhood obesity, the outdoor retail industry, many local tourist destinations or gateway communities, and State fish and wildlife agencies rely on revenue generated when individuals spend time outdoors to create jobs in local communities.
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.
Visitation to our Nation’s public lands has declined or remained flat in recent years, and yet, connecting with nature and the great outdoors in our communities is critical to fostering the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts who will visit, appreciate, and become stewards of our Nation’s public lands.
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.
Spending time outdoors in nature is beneficial to our children’s physical, mental, and emotional health and has been proven to decrease symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, stimulate brain development, improve motor skills, result in better sleep, reduce stress, increase creativity, improve mood, and reduce children’s risk of developing myopia.
Children who spend time playing outside are more likely to take risks, seek out adventure, develop self-confidence, and respect the value of nature.
Spending time in green spaces outside the home, including parks, play areas, and garden, can increase concentration, inhibition of initial impulses, and self-discipline and has been shown to reduce stress and mental fatigue. In one study, children who were exposed to greener environments in a public housing area demonstrated less aggression, violence, and stress.
As children become more disconnected from the natural world, the hunting and angling conservation legacy of America is at risk.
Conservation education and outdoor recreation experiences such as camping, hiking, boating, hunting, fishing, archery, recreational shooting, wildlife watching, and others are critical to engaging young people in the outdoors.
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.
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.
A direct childhood experience with nature before the age of 11 promotes a long-term connection to nature.
Parks and recreation, youth-serving, service-learning, conservation, health, education, and built-environment organizations, facilities, and personnel provide critical resources and infrastructure for connecting children and families with nature.
Place-based service-learning opportunities use our lands and waters as the context for learning by engaging students in the process of exploration, action, and reflection. Physical activity outdoors connected with meaningful community service to solve real-world problems, such as removing invasive plants or removing trash from a streambed, strengthens communities by engaging youth as citizen stewards.
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 to effectively engage State agencies across multiple fields.
States need to engage in cross-sector agency and nonprofit collaboration that involves public health and wellness, parks and recreation, transportation and city planning, and other sectors 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.
In this Act:
The term eligible entity means—
a State; or
a consortium from one State that may include such State and municipalities, entities of local or tribal governments, parks and recreation departments or districts, school districts, institutions of higher education, or nonprofit organizations.
The term local partners means a municipality, entity of local or tribal government, parks and recreation departments or districts, Indian tribe, school district, institution of higher education, nonprofit organization, or a consortium of local partners.
The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.
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.
Cooperative agreements for development or implementation of healthy kids outdoors State strategies
The Secretary is authorized to issue one cooperative agreement per State to eligible entities to develop, implement, and update a 5-year State strategy, to be known as a Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy, designed to encourage Americans, especially children, youth, and families, to be physically active outdoors.
Submission and approval of strategies
An application for a cooperative agreement under subsection (a) shall—
be submitted not later than 120 days after the Secretary publishes guidelines under subsection (f)(1); and
include a Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy meeting the requirements of subsection (c) or a proposal for development and submission of such a strategy.
Approval of strategy; peer review
Not later than 90 days after submission of a Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy, the Secretary shall, through a peer review process, approve or recommend changes to the strategy.
An eligible entity receiving funds under this section shall update its Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy at least once every 5 years. Continued funding under this section shall be contingent upon submission of such updated strategies and reports that document impact evaluation methods consistent with the guidelines in subsection (f)(1) and lessons learned from implementing the strategy.
Comprehensive strategy requirements
The Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy under subsection (a) shall include—
a description of how the eligible entity will encourage Americans, especially children, youth, and families, to be physically active in the outdoors through State, local, and tribal—
public health systems;
public parks and recreation systems;
public transportation and city planning systems; and
other public systems that connect Americans, especially children, youth, and families, to the outdoors;
a description of how the eligible entity will partner with nongovernmental organizations, especially those that serve children, youth, and families, including those serving military families and tribal agencies;
a description of how State agencies will collaborate with each other to implement the strategy;
a description of how funding will be spent through local planning and implementation subgrants under subsection (d);
a description of how the eligible entity will evaluate the effectiveness of, and measure the impact of, the strategy, including an estimate of the costs associated with such evaluation;
a description of how the eligible entity will provide opportunities for public involvement in developing and implementing the strategy;
a description of how the strategy will increase visitation to Federal public lands within the state; and
a description of how the eligible entity will leverage private funds to expand opportunities and further implement the strategy.
Local planning and implementation
A Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy shall provide for subgrants by the cooperative agreement recipient under subsection (a) to local partners to implement the strategy through one or more of the program activities described in paragraph (2).
Program activities may include—
implementing outdoor recreation and youth mentoring programs that provide opportunities to experience the outdoors, be physically active, and teach skills for lifelong participation in outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, archery, hiking, camping, outdoor play in natural environments, and wildlife watching;
implementing programs that connect communities with safe parks, green spaces, and outdoor recreation areas through affordable public transportation and trail systems that encourage walking, biking, and increased physical activity outdoors;
implementing school-based programs that use outdoor learning environments, such as wildlife habitats or gardens, and programs that use service learning to restore natural areas and maintain recreational assets; and
implementing education programs for parents and caregivers about the health benefits of active time outdoors to fight obesity and increase the quality of life for Americans, especially children, youth, and families.
In making cooperative agreements under subsection (a) and subgrants under subsection (d)(1), the Secretary and the recipient under subsection (a), respectively, 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 or suffer disproportionately from physical and mental health stressors.
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—
developing and submitting strategies and evaluation methods under subsection (b); and
technical assistance and dissemination of best practices under section 7.
Not later than 2 years after the Secretary approves the Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategy of an eligible entity receiving funds under this section, and every year thereafter, the eligible 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.
Allocation of funds
An eligible entity receiving funding under subsection (a) for a fiscal year—
may use not more than 5 percent of the funding for administrative expenses; and
shall use at least 95 percent of the funding for subgrants to local partners under subsection (d).
An eligible entity receiving funding under subsection (a) for a fiscal year shall provide a 25-percent match through in-kind contributions or cash.
National strategy for encouraging Americans to be active outdoors
Not later than September 30, 2012, the President, in cooperation with appropriate Federal departments and agencies, shall develop and issue a national strategy for encouraging Americans, especially children, youth, and families, to be physically active outdoors. Such a strategy shall include—
identification of barriers to Americans, especially children, youth, and families, spending healthy time outdoors and specific policy solutions to address those barriers;
identification of opportunities for partnerships with Federal, State, tribal, and local partners;
coordination of efforts among Federal departments and agencies to address the impacts of Americans, especially children, youth, and families, spending less active time outdoors on—
public health, including childhood obesity, attention deficit disorders and stress;
the future of conservation in the United States; and
identification of ongoing research needs to document the health, conservation, economic, and other outcomes of implementing the national strategy and State strategies;
coordination and alignment with Healthy Kids Outdoors State Strategies; and
an action plan for implementing the strategy at the Federal level.
Throughout the process of developing the national strategy under subsection (a), the President may use, incorporate, or otherwise consider existing Federal plans and strategies that, in whole or in part, contribute to connecting Americans, especially children, youth, and families, with the outdoors and shall provide for public participation, including a national summit of participants with demonstrated expertise in encouraging individuals to be physically active outdoors in nature.
Updating the national strategy
The President shall update the national strategy not less than 5 years after the date the first national strategy is issued under subsection (a), and every 5 years thereafter. In updating the strategy, the President shall incorporate results of the evaluation under section 6.
National evaluation of health impacts
The Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall—
develop recommendations for appropriate evaluation measures and criteria for a study of national significance on the health impacts of the strategies under this Act; and
carry out such a study.
Technical assistance and best practices
The Secretary shall—
provide technical assistance to grantees under section 4 through cooperative agreements with national organizations with a proven track record of encouraging Americans, especially children, youth, and families, to be physically active outdoors; and
disseminate best practices that emerge from strategies funded under this Act.
Authorization of appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this Act—
$1,000,000 for fiscal year 2013;
$2,000,000 for fiscal year 2014;
$3,000,000 for fiscal year 2015;
$4,000,000 for fiscal year 2016; and
$5,000,000 for fiscal year 2017.
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 7.
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 encourage Americans, especially children, youth, and families to be physically active outdoors.