Assistant Secretary Estenoz Highlights Investments in Equitable Outdoor Access, Preservation of Equal Rights History in the Carolinas

Last edited 02/23/2023

Date: Thursday, February 23, 2023


Greensboro, N.C. — Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz visited North and South Carolina this week to celebrate new investments that help tell a more complete story of America. During her visit, she also highlighted new and increased funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) that are restoring America’s lands and waters and expanding access to the outdoors.

On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary Estenoz visited Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, to celebrate a $130,000 investment through the National Park Service’s (NPS) History of Equal Rights grant program. The funding is part of a nearly $4.5 million investment the NPS is making this year for projects across the nation to preserve sites directly associated with the struggle to gain equal rights for all, as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing work to advance equity and social justice.

On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary Estenoz traveled to Lancaster, South Carolina, where she highlighted a $860,000 investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will replace outdated culverts and connect occupied critical habitat for the Carolina heelsplitter, a species of endangered freshwater mussel. This continues the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Pee Dee Basin to bring this species back from the brink of extinction and restore the river habitat. She also toured the Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, where she surveyed efforts the refuge is taking to reduce wildfire risk, visited a recovery population of the red-cockaded woodpecker and toured a tree restoration project site.

The Department of the Interior is investing an overall $200 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into the National Fish Passage Program over five years to bolster efforts to address outdated, unsafe or obsolete dams, culverts, levees and other barriers fragmenting our nation’s river and streams, which will help restore fish passages and aquatic connectivity while addressing public safety and enhancing recreation.

Today, Assistant Secretary Estenoz joined state, city and community leaders at Peeler Park in Greensboro, North Carolina to highlight the parks renovation thanks to a $600,000 investment from the ORLP program. The funding helped transform the park through renovations to the existing ball field as well as the construction of new play structures and an outdoor fitness area. It also allowed for the installation of paved accessible pathways throughout the park with an interpretive story walk created in partnership with the Greensboro Public Library.

The ORLP program, established in 2014, enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities. Assistant Secretary Estenoz underscored how the ORLP program and efforts from the America the Beautiful initiative are helping advance the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensuring that everyone, no matter their background or zip code, can enjoy the benefits of green spaces and the outdoors.


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