Preservation Maintenance in the National Parks

Center for Park Research Report
Published October 2012


View Full Report
(PDF, 7.79 MB, 36 pages)

View Policy Brochure
(PDF, 3.54 MB, 2 pages)

View National Parks Magazine article

In ten years of research in parks of all sizes and designations, NPCA’s Center for Park Research (CPR) identified the deferred maintenance of historic structures as one of the most serious, and most highly visible, challenges facing the National Park Service. The National Park Service’s A Call To Action (August 2011) focused on addressing deferred maintenance and historic preservation methods as the most important cultural resources actions needed for the parks as they approach their second century. The major barrier to meeting this challenge and fulfilling these action plans is funding: as of 2011, the National Park Service (NPS) estimates the deferred maintenance cost just for historic structures at $3 billion, an amount projected to increase with each passing year.

Building on these reports, CPR undertook a research project to identify viable alternative strategies for historic structure maintenance that are being used successfully in parks, in order to leverage NPCA’s and allies’ ongoing work to secure appropriate levels of park funding. In consultation with NPCA staff from Regional Operations, Legal, Government Affairs, and outside partners in historic preservation, we chose to focus on three alternatives to traditional NPS management and use of historic structures, and one alternative approach to preservation maintenance itself. The management and use alternatives are

  •  Leasing;
  •  NPS use for special park purposes that tap designated funding sources beyond the NPS Construction budget, such as research learning centers;
  • Partnerships and agreements with outside organizations for uses that advance park purposes; and
  • Preservation maintenance performed by volunteers without ongoing management responsibility.

Preservation Maintenance in the National Parks: A Guide to NPS Policies and Options describes each of these alternatives, including the authority to use it and situations where it is best employed, and provides examples, references, and contact information from parks that have successfully used the strategy to help maintain historic structures. Click on the links above to download the guide and to read a National Parks Magazine article on historic preservation work in the national parks. There is also a link to a printable brochure that illustrates the highlights and policy recommendations of the guide. It is formatted for 11” x 17” tabloid size paper, to be folded to a double-sided three-panel brochure.

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