Public lands for Public Purposes: Community in the Outdoors
by Heather Feeney, Public Affairs Specialist
Southwest, Northeast + Places in-between
Near the intersection of West LeBaron Avenue and South Lindell Road in the Las Vegas Valley is a parcel of public land that Clark County (Nevada) envisions as a neighborhood park.
More than 1,760 miles to the northeast, agencies and community groups are partnering to enliven Lake Huron’s maritime culture and history offshore of Alpena, Michigan, centered on Thunder Bay Island.
The BLM has a key role in these projects and many others like them under the Recreation and Public Purposes (R&PP) Act, which first became law in June 1926 and which Congress updated in 1954.
The Act authorizes the Bureau to lease or sell certain public lands to states, local governments, or qualified non-profit groups for recreational use or other public-purpose projects.
Present, Past & Future
LeBaron Lindell Neighborhood Park is the latest of over 130 R&PP Act projects in Clark County, which continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. The “public purposes” of the Act are projects that support community expansion and local economic development.
The BLM Las Vegas Field Office is processing the County’s application to lease and later take title to 10 acres of public land for the municipal park.
In northeastern Michigan the Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse Preservation Society is working to enliven the past while building community and access to the outdoors in the present. The non-profit group is restoring the lighthouse on the southern end of Thunder Bay Island as an integral element in the National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve and the Alpena Blueway, a water trail designated by the State of Michigan.
The BLM conveyed title to the 43 acres surrounding the lighthouse to Alpena Township and the State in 2014. Preservation Society volunteers are stabilizing and restoring the lighthouse and other structures so visitors can safely tour the site. In the meantime, visitors to Alpena can view the lighthouse from the water while exploring the wrecks of ships that sank around Thunder Island before they could reach safe harbor.
June is Great Outdoors Month
In proclaiming this month ‘Great Outdoors Month,’ President Biden noted that the outdoors are central to our National identity and important for local communities. The R&PP Act supports access to the values of the outdoors at the local level, community by community.
Places to find unity and forge common bonds
President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative is a decade-long challenge to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030, centered on locally led conservation efforts of all kinds and collaborating to ensure access to the outdoors now and for the future.
As the manager of programs like R&PP, the BLM supports cooperation at all levels to meet the challenge of ‘giving every person in America – present and future – the chance to experience the freedoms, joys, bounties and opportunities that the nation’s lands and waters provide.’
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