Policy Update Oct 19, 2017

Position on H.Con.Res.71, FY18 Budget Resolution

NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the Senate ahead of expected floor votes on October 19, 2017.

NPCA asks senators to oppose H.Con.Res.71 – FY18 Budget Resolution that would threaten further underfunding of our national parks, public lands, water, and wildlife. We oppose the resolution’s deep nondefense discretionary budget cuts that could negatively impact National Park Service operations, maintenance, visitor programs and resource protection, and for related agencies important for protecting park ecosystems, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

Further, we oppose the resolution’s continuation of the harmful Budget Control Act sequestration caps, which were damaging to the underfunded National Park Service in FY13 and prior fiscal years. These caps were never intended to become law. Rather than pursue a budget resolution that assumes the continuation of these caps, we urge Congress to negotiate another budget deal that can prevent sequestration and boost funding levels for nondefense discretionary spending.

Additionally, please consider our views on the following specific amendments that may come up for a vote today.

We SUPPORT the following amendments:

McCain #1157: The National Park Service deferred maintenance backlog has reached an unsustainable $11.3 billion. Important infrastructure for recreation and cultural and natural resource preservation–including trails, visitor centers, roads, and historic buildings–is falling into disrepair due to underinvestment. This threatens local economies dependent on parks and their visitors, and the preservation of our heritage. NPCA supports this amendment to address the repairs backlog and urges senators to build on this support by cosponsoring the National Park Service Legacy Act (S.751) to dedicate funds to the backlog over the next thirty years.

Gillibrand #1235: NPCA supports the conservation of Plum Island for its natural resource values and nature-based recreational potential. Plum Island, if preserved and left undeveloped, would be an important component of conserved land in and near Long Island, NY as it lies in the middle of the Atlantic Coast flyway and is adjacent to Great Gull Island.

Gillibrand #1236: NPCA supports this amendment that would protect funding devoted to preserving and protecting Long Island Sound and its ecosystem. The Sound is an Estuary of National Significance, supporting recreation, economic development and the region’s quality of life while contributing billions in economic value to the region.

Wyden/Burr #1273: The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is an important program to buy private land from willing sellers inside national park boundaries to ensure conservation and prevent incompatible development. This invaluable program, which enjoys wide bipartisan support within Congress and the American public among diverse constituencies, deserves long-term support. This amendment ensures both reliability and consistency for the program and should be supported.

Stabenow #1334: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is one of the nation’s largest restoration effort focused on protecting the drinking water for over 30 million people. The GLRI is producing results by cleaning up toxic hot spots, restoring wetlands, stopping polluted farm runoff, and controlling invasive species. The EPA has said the program “is protecting public health in the Great Lakes more than any other coordinated interagency effort in U.S. history.” The Stabenow amendment protects this important initiative by preventing cuts to its funding.

Hirono #1509: NPCA supports this amendment that protects and maintains our Federal public lands, including national monuments, for the enjoyment of current and future generations, to honor the national heritage of the United States, and to recognize Federal public lands as national treasures that belong to all people of the United States. National monuments, parks, and public lands preserve our nation’s history, culture and exquisite natural resources and provide economic benefits to local communities across the country.

Hirono #1514: NPCA urges support for this amendment that addresses the $11.3 billion National Park Service deferred maintenance backlog–which includes trails, visitor centers, and historic buildings–that are in disrepair and need funding. The amendment supports local economies and the preservation of our natural and cultural heritage. It supports long-term operational support to address the backlog and ensures that infrastructure is repaired in such a manner that resources are protected by existing laws and policies. As noted above, we urge senators to build on support for this amendment by cosponsoring the National Park Service Legacy Act (S.751) to dedicate funds to the backlog over the next thirty years.

We OPPOSE the following amendments:

Lee #1429: This amendment continues congressional attempts to chip away at the protections provided for threatened and endangered species, many of which call national parks home. National parks are protected by the federal government for all Americans. The same should be true for the species that live in and move through their borders.

Lee #1432: This amendment proposes to sell excess federal lands to reduce the federal deficit. We are concerned about selling off our nation’s common natural and cultural heritage. This approach would be “penny wise and pound foolish” because our federal public lands return billions of dollars each year to American taxpayers through revenues derived from those lands, and the economic activities that occur on them.

Lee #1488: The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to create national monuments on land owned or controlled by the federal government. Since Congress passed this important conservation law, nearly every President–Republicans and Democrats—has utilized its authority to protect incredible places from the Grand Canyon to Acadia to Grand Teton National Parks. Recent presidents have conducted extensive public engagement processes–we feel strongly that this amendment is unnecessary.

Lee #1490: NPCA opposes this amendment that undermines the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a critical tool for protecting national parks from development, by preventing use of LWCF funds until the park service maintenance backlog is reduced to less than $5 million. This amendment poses a false choice; both LWCF and maintenance funding are critical to the protection and restoration of our national parks, and both deserve funding.