|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||August 2, 2013|
|Contact:||Kati Schmidt, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association: 415.728.0840|
National Parks Group Applauds Senate Funding Bill
Restored funding would end the sequester’s damaging impact on national parks, park visitors, and local economies
Washington, D.C. – Following the contentious debate of a damaging House bill earlier this week, yesterday the U.S. Senate introduced their version of the Interior appropriations bill, which is nearly $350 million above the House bill and reverses the damaging sequester.
The Senate Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill increases the National Park Service budget by $60 million over FY12. It provides a substantial increase of $182 million over current levels to operate national parks, though $6 million below the President’s proposed budget submitted to Congress earlier this year.
“The National Parks Conservation Association applauds Senators Reed and Murkowski's efforts to restore funding for our national treasures. This investment would move our national parks in the direction of recovery, benefitting visitors, park communities, and the parks, themselves,” said Craig Obey, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), who outlined the contrast between the recently released House and Senate bills.
“In contrast, the House funding levels are fundamentally inadequate and would contribute to a continuing decline for our parks. Although the House bill clearly prioritizes park operations, the funding levels dictated by the House budget are so unrealistic that they don’t come close to meeting the need,” said Mr. Obey.
In contrast to the House bill that eliminates all funds for the National Park Service to protect our investment in parks by acquiring inholdings within their boundaries, the Senate bill restores those levels to where they were two years ago.
The Senate bill also authorizes the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and National Historical Park, and reauthorizes for an additional year the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which allows the parks to keep the nearly $180 million in entrance and other fees they collect each year. In addition, the bill includes language protecting the proposed Mojave Trails National Monument from incompatible commercial energy development and invests $300 million in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“These two bills illustrate stark, alternative futures for our national parks—one with more park rangers, the other with fewer; one with more open park campgrounds, bathrooms, and visitor centers, and the other with more closed facilities. Ultimately, the best way to protect the future of our parks is for Congress and the president to work together on a grand budget deal that addresses the deficit drivers and ends these indiscriminate discretionary cuts that threaten our national parks, the experience of park visitors, and gateway economies that depend on the upkeep of our national treasures,” said Mr. Obey.