(CNMI Governors Office) Following a technical assistance request through the Office of Grants Management – State Clearinghouse (OGM-SC) under the Office of the Governor, the US Department of the Interior – National Park Service (USDOI-NPS) has approved funding for the Commonwealth to plan and develop a new comprehensive outdoor recreation plan for FY 2019 to 2024.
Giving the notice to proceed, David Siegenthaler of the Pacific West Region National Park Service informed the CNMI Office of the Governor of the successful agreement with the National Park Service pursuant to the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965.
Governor Ralph DLG. Torres stated that the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan or SCORP will serve as a policy and assessment plan that will guide the activities of the CNMI’s recreation agencies and providers.
“Safeguarding our natural resources for current and future generations as much as possible will help maintain our overall infrastructure and economic viability. OGM has made the initial effort to bring a comprehensive recreational plan to life and the agreement between the National Park Service will allow the Commonwealth to re-establish our eligibility to participate in the Land and Water Conservation Fund program and receive grants that will help assist in preserving, developing, and assuring accessibility to our community’s outdoor recreation resources. From this plan, the Department of Land and Natural Resources can better maintain and administer the use of all public park lands to their fullest potential,” Governor Torres said.
According to OGM-SC Administrator Epiphanio E. Cabrera Jr., the scope of work states that the CNMI Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), as the sub-recipient, must evaluate and identify recreation issues, GIS mapping, and strategic goals and plans for implementation with support by public input, surveys and other data gathering efforts.
“The award of $131,162 will cover the entirety of this plan’s development, and with DLNR and Governor Torres’ direction, will allow for the improvement of community-based activities and park usage. This grant is covered 100 percent with no matching requirement by the CNMI government. We look forward to working with local agencies and federal partners on this to provide our community better recreational opportunities in the very near future,” Cabrera said.
Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources Anthony Benavente further expressed the need for additional funding support to improve parks throughout the community.
“Recreational activities on park lands and public spaces are still very critical to our tourism industry and are regularly used by members of our community. With this technical assistance, we hope to soon expand our recreational offerings and improve access for everyone in our community and adopt better policies and programs that are still environmentally and culturally responsive,” Benavente said.
The project period is currently ongoing and will close out by September 30, 2019.