Dear MDASLA members and friends,
We are already halfway through March and the warmer air of spring has started sneaking it’s way into our lives. With it, more vaccines are being made available and people are starting to consider a life more like that of a year ago. I cannot believe it has been a whole year since this pandemic began. It all at once feels like an eternity and that no time has passed at all. Maybe that is because many of us haven’t left the house very much!
As eyes look forward to the possibilities of a return to “normal,” we hope that the country can take the lessons learned, specifically about the importance of outdoor spaces, and reinforce the work landscape architects are doing in the field, but also in the halls of power, passing legislation to strengthen communities and build equity.
In one such effort, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 803 - Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act. This legislation creates nearly 1.5 million acres of new wilderness areas and adds over 1,000 miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Additionally, this legislation protects 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas exploitation and extraction. As part of the final crafting of this bill, ASLA was able to help secure amendments to strengthen the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as study providing permits and jobs tied to recreation in environmental justice communities. Read more about this act here.
In another win, Executive Order 13967 which mandated classical architecture as the preferred style in certain federal buildings was recently revoked. This legislation was opposed by ASLA and many members sent letters to lawmakers expressing that opposition. "ASLA has long stated that designers of civic spaces should not be mandated by federal law to follow any specific style. Our nation's federal buildings, parks, and monuments should reflect the needs and values of the communities they are built to serve," said Torey Carter-Conneen, ASLA CEO.
Our chapter’s Advocacy Committee continues to monitor legislation in our own state house through the end of the session and will be sharing updates on opportunities for projects as well as movement on bills that affect our work.
Thanks for your support of the chapter,
Benjamin Boyd, PLA, ASLA
President - Maryland Chapter