Extra money for Interior could be boon for recreation

By Garrett Downs | 05/24/2024 06:25 AM EDT

Outdoor recreation advocates are lobbying for a spending increase. They may get at least some of what they want.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he found additional money for the Interior-Environment bill. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Outdoor recreation advocates are launching a campaign for more funding in the annual appropriations process. They may have just gotten good news.

On Thursday, House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told POLITICO he’s planning to direct an extra $800 million to the bill to fund the Interior Department and EPA. The funds are coming from an unanticipated upsurge in housing fees.

“We moved some money over to Interior, where we have both lots of requests and lots of needs. It doesn’t dramatically change things, but it’s helpful,” Cole said.


The extra funding could be a boon for the advocates led by the Outdoor Alliance, a group that represents recreationists. They claim that years of stagnant funding levels have not kept up with inflation or the increased levels of visitation since the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving critical recreation infrastructure crumbling. All the while, they argue, public recreation has added more than $1 trillion to the economy annually.