NPCA submitted the following position to the Senate ahead of floor debate during the week of September 12, 2016.
Our national parks often rely on the Army Corps of Engineers, among others, to carry out programs and implement projects that benefit the landscapes in which parks sit. The health of our national parks is directly linked to the health of the ecosystems that surround them. National parks, once viewed as isolated and remote, are impacted by activities—both beneficial and damaging—beyond their boundaries, activities such as those the Army Corps undertakes near some of our nation’s most special places.
Many provisions in the bill you are considering help improve the availability and quality of the water that flows in and through some of our most iconic national parks. It also addresses critical national needs, such as improving our water infrastructure that benefits not only our national parks but the availability of clean water for park visitors in communities that surround them.
In particular, NPCA supports the following provisions in the manager’s substitute amendment:
Sec. 4006. Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration. This section increases the authorization level for Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration, a critical undertaking to meet our restoration goals for the bay.
Sec. 4017. Consideration of Full Array of Measures for Coastal Risk Reduction. Nature-based solutions are often the best option when reducing the impacts climate change will have on our nation’s coastlines. Wetlands, tidal marshes, barrier islands and other natural barriers can more cost-effectively absorb flood waters from storms and protect shoreline communities from rising sea levels. This section requires the Army Corps to consider these features when developing projects for coastal risk reduction. This requirement is important when considering work in places like New York-New Jersey Harbor among other sites.
Sec. 6001. Authorization for Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP). CEPP improves the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water flows to the northern estuaries, central Everglades National Park and Florida Bay while increasing water supply for cities, industry and agriculture. CEPP also accelerates implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Sec. 6002. Project Modification for Picayune Strand, Florida. The Picayune Strand restoration project needs a cost adjustment to reflect design and construction upgrades to pump stations, which were made following Hurricane Katrina. The project restores more than 55,000 acres of natural habitat in the western portion of the Everglades.
Title VII. Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Infrastructure. Improving water infrastructure and ecosystem health are critical both in national parks and to the communities near them. Title VII includes provisions that restore ecosystems around some of our nation’s Great Waters. In particular, it promotes the restoration of the Great Lakes by authorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Long Island Sound by reauthorizing the Long Island Sound Restoration Program and the Delaware River by authorizing a Delaware River restoration program. In addition, Title VII provides needed investments to improve both drinking water and sewer infrastructure by modernizing the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan programs, reauthorizing funding to control sewer overflows, providing assistance to test for lead in schools and childcare centers and replacing lead service lines and supporting emergency infrastructure needs in frontline communities, like Flint, Michigan.
Activities beyond park boundaries impact national parks. S. 2848 authorizes important projects and programs that help protect and restore the landscapes around them. It also invests in our nation’s water infrastructure, which benefits nearby communities.