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NPCA staff work across the country to ensure national parks are preserved and protected for the enjoyment of all visitors and future generations. The 114th Congress – which will begin in January 2015 – has the opportunity to strengthen the National Park System and prepare it for its 100th anniversary in 2016.
Here are five hot issues we expect Congress to consider soon. Please take a careful look and ask your senator, representative, and other candidates where they stand on these important national parks issues.
- National Park Funding: Parks have faced significant budget cuts over the past few years – the operations budget for the Park Service has been cut by nearly $180 million in just four years. These cuts not only affect the visitor experience but also hinder wildlife protection and resource management work. While Congress complains that the national park system has an over $11 billion deferred maintenance backlog, they refuse to provide adequate funding to the National Park Service to address its operations and maintenance needs. Learn more about NPCA’s park funding work and take action to tell your members of Congress that parks deserve more funding!
- Federal Transportation Reauthorization: Transportation facilities located on or operating in national parks—such as roads, bridges, tunnels, ferries, buses, and more!—are federal facilities and should be taken care of by the federal government. Many of these systems have been in a steady state of decline—40 percent of the nearly 10,000 miles of publicly accessible roads in parks are in poor to fair condition—over the past couple of decades due to chronic underfunding. Next year, Congress has the opportunity to reauthorize federal transportation funding and make an investment in national park infrastructure. Learn more about NPCA’s transportation work.
- Antiquities Act: The Antiquities Act of 1906 is one of the most important tools available for the preservation of public, federal lands and historical sites for all Americans to enjoy. The Act allows the president to preserve existing federal lands as national monuments and leaves congressional authority undisturbed. There are currently 13 bills in Congress that would weaken the president’s authority to use this important Act—an Act that has preserved national treasures like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. Learn more about NPCA’s work to protect the Antiquities Act.
- Clean Water Protection Rule: Clean water has been flowing in and around national park lands for thousands of years. Recently, two Supreme Court decisions have increased the risk of pollution and destruction of these waters, wetlands, and tributaries. These rulings and the subsequent agency guidance have created a confusing, time-consuming, and frustrating process for determining what is protected under the Clean Water Act, resulting in reduced protections for drinking water supplies and critical habitat. The proposed Clean Water Protection Rule would correct this process and ensure safe drinking water for more than 117 million Americans and decrease the risk of pollution and destruction to America’s waterways. Learn more about NPCA’s work on the Clean Water Protection Rule and take action to tell your members of Congress that we want clean water in our national parks!
- Future Park Designations: During the current Congress, the President has signed just six bills into law that protect and preserve critical habitats, historical resources, and beautiful lands. Congress has not acted on hundreds of bills that would enhance the protection and conservation of America’s treasures. NPCA is working on 13 specific bills that would study, expand, establish, or designate new national park units—all of which would enhance cultural diversity, historic preservation, and landscape protections across the country. Learn more about Telling America’s Stories through NPCA’s future parks work.