Policy Update May 4, 2017

Position on Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations

NPCA sent the following position to members of Congress after the passage of the H.R. 244 on May 4, 2017.

NPCA commends members of Congress for supporting our national parks in the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The modest $81 million increase over fiscal year 2016 levels supports the National Park Service’s efforts to protect and maintain our nation’s treasures and interpret them for American families. Furthermore, the removal of the most egregious policy riders ensure parks are better protected.

Our national parks are loved. Last year over 330 million visitors went to see majestic canyons, mountains and rivers; learn about the Civil War and Civil Rights; and experience our nation’s cultural heritage. This was over 7 percent more visitors than in 2015. Polling shows national parks are supported by Americans of all political persuasions who want them adequately funded. The Interior portion of the FY17 omnibus sends a message to them that Congress shares their support, and we hope Congress can continue their effort to boost needed funding for parks in a FY18 bill without damaging environmental riders.

These visits don’t just inspire Americans; they underpin local economies. National park visitation generated $34.9 billion for the U.S. economy in 2016, a $2.9 billion increase from 2015, and supported 318,000 jobs. Every million dollars invested in construction creates 14 to 16 jobs, many sub-contracted to local communities. Investing in our parks invests in our local economies.

Congressional support for our National Park System and the modest increase in funding is vital.

Yet, the National Park Service faces a $12 billion backlog of infrastructure repair needs and there aren’t enough rangers to greet visitors and guide their visits, to protect and repair our parks for future generations, and to bolster park gateway economies. The FY17 increases will be helpful in better addressing the backlog, but more is needed to make significant headway on the degradation of parks resources, as well as more adequately staff our parks.

Although fiscal year 2017 is now wrapped up, we look forward to talking to Congress about how they can continue to support our nation’s special places in the upcoming fiscal year.