Press Release Sep 13, 2018

Congress Passes Water Resources Bill to Benefit National Park Waterways and Restoration Projects Across the Country

Bill will advance projects that improve the health of waterways in and around America’s national parks.

BACKGROUND AND UPDATE: On October 10, Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), also known as the water resources bill, to advance projects that maintain and restore the nation’s waterways and water infrastructure, including several projects critical to improving the health of waterways in and around America’s national parks. For nearly 20 years, National Parks Conservation Association has supported this bill for the benefits it provides to parks across the country. With this action today, WRDA will be sent to President Trump for his signature, returning to a more regular two-year schedule that will hopefully continue in the future.

Ten percent of America’s coastline is managed by the National Park Service, including lakeshores around the Great Lakes, the kelp forests of the Channel Islands, glaciers in the coastal parks of Alaska, seashores from Cape Cod to Padre Island, and coral reefs at Virgin Islands National Park. The National Park Service also oversees thousands of miles of waterways throughout the country – from trout streams in Yellowstone to the Colorado River flowing through nine national parks like the Grand Canyon. For more than 20 years, national park visitors have consistently ranked water quality or water access as one of their top-five values when visiting national parks. The Outdoor Industry Association found that consumers spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, with nearly $140 billion on kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and scuba diving and other water sports, much of which takes place in our parks.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association

“The water resources bill is critical to the overall health of our parks and the people that visit them. Park visitors value and expect clean water when going to our national parks. Many of our more than 400 national parks have rivers, lakes, and streams that flow through and around them and are impacted by activities outside their borders. This bill includes a critical reservoir project to store and deliver clean freshwater to Everglades National Park and will help reduce algae-stricken communities by as much 50 percent. The bill will also prevent invasive Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes and surrounding national park waterways and encourages the Army Corps to promote natural features like wetlands and sand dunes to help coastal communities better withstand massive storms and floods.

“At a time when we’re seeing toxic algae plague our nation’s waterways, bipartisan support and momentum in Congress is needed now more than ever. We will continue to work to get this bill passed into law to ensure our national parks and communities have the resources they need for clean water.”

Critical national park water infrastructure projects in WRDA include:

Everglades Restoration –advances projects that will help restore America’s Everglades by sending more fresh, clean water south to the park through the construction of the desperately needed Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. Everglades National Park is parched for freshwater, while polluted water from Lake Okeechobee continues to inundate Florida’s coastal estuaries, causing blue-green algae blooms that are dangerous to public health, the environment and the economy. Native seagrass, wading birds, fish, and other national park species face catastrophic consequences unless Lake Okeechobee’s polluted water is treated, and clean freshwater is restored to Everglades National Park.

Great Lakes Restoration – ensures restoration and protection of the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater resource in the world that provides drinking water for 30 million Americans across eight states. WRDA supports the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study to coordinate and recommend actions to manage the Great Lakes coastlines from changes due to erosion, flooding and increased agricultural runoff. It also calls on the Army Corps to complete its work on a plan to prevent Asian carp-one of the biggest threats to the Great Lakes – from invading Lake Michigan.

Hudson River Restoration – prioritizes the completion of a plan to restore Jamaica Bay in Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City. Due to years of industrialization and residential development, extensive navigation and urbanization and storms like Hurricane Sandy, there has been extensive damage to area wetlands, streams, island rookeries, shellfish beds, migratory bird habitat, which is home to threatened species like like the Piping Plover and Rufa Red Knot. WRDA calls for the Army Corps to complete its Hudson Raritan Estuary restoration plan quickly so work can begin in restoring the surrounding Jamaica Bay landscape.

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About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.