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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Norton to propose bill expanding NPS involvement in D.C. parks using Milken report

Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), pictured here in 2016, said her idea for the proposed bill came from a Milken Institute of Health report published in May.
Hatchet File Photo
Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), pictured here in 2016, said her idea for the proposed bill came from a Milken Institute of Health report published in May.

Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) will introduce a bill expanding the mission of the National Park Service to improve the care of parks in the District.

Norton said in a Wednesday release her proposed bill will direct NPS to promote “active use” of urban parks, including projects like playgrounds, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure, sports and recreation facilities and community events. The proposal stems from a Milken Institute School of Public Health report published in May finding that NPS’s management of parks in the District has resulted in a lack of upkeep and inequity — with parks in neighborhoods of predominantly people of color more often in disarray.

Norton’s proposal states that NPS is “ill-suited” to address the immediate needs of urban neighborhood parks and that the agency’s statutory authority hindered efforts to activate and improve local parks. Norton’s bill, which she said she will introduce after the July 4 holiday, would only apply to parks located in areas that the Secretary of Commerce defined as “urban” in the most recent decennial census and would not impact “wilderness areas.”

“NPS’s primary mission is to preserve spaces for the enjoyment of future generations,” the proposal reads. “This noble mission was crafted for the purpose of wilderness preservation, allowing nature to remain untouched by time. However, in addition to grand national parks, NPS also owns neighborhood parks in urban areas.”

D.C. boasts thousands of acres of parks, and NPS controls nearly 90 percent of them, according to the Milken report. The report states NPS oversees the upkeep of more than 6,500 acres over roughly 356 individual properties.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land rated the District’s urban park system as the best in the country for the third year in a row. However, the Milken report claims the rating is skewed because while 98 percent of D.C. residents are within a 10-minute walk of a park, many of them are not “functionally accessible,” “actually usable” or “genuinely equitable.”

The report finds that parks in neighborhoods that are low income and majority Black are less clean and safe and often have lower quality amenities.

“In short, the District of Columbia’s Park System is one of great unrealized potential,” the Milken report states. “Because NPS is poorly equipped to manage urban parks, and the District government controls only a small percentage of DC’s greenspace, there is no entity well positioned to successfully oversee management of the entire park system.”

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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