Press Release Apr 1, 2019

National Parks Group to Honor Champions on Capitol Hill

National Parks Conservation Association Recognizes Bipartisan Senators and Representatives with Heritage Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. — National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) will present the 2019 National Park Heritage Award to key members of Congress who supported the landmark John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (S.47), the biggest bipartisan conservation and historic preservation law passed in years. The bill represents decades of hard work by NPCA, elected officials, communities and partner organizations.

“Our national parks protect the stories that define and unite us as a nation,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association. “They are the landscapes our ancestors cherished and where battles were fought for freedom and justice. For one hundred years, NPCA has been working to protect these places, and as we celebrate our centennial year, we remain just as steadfast in our commitment to defend them for one hundred years more. But we can’t do it alone, which is why it’s vital to have these members of Congress from across the nation and across the aisle work together to protect these places, for all who experience them now and for those who will come long after us. We are honored to recognize these park champions who worked to strengthen protections for national parks, wilderness areas and waterways across the country.”

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act provides new or enhanced protection for more than two million acres of public lands, paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive National Park System that more adequately reflects our rich and diverse cultural heritage and evolving national story.

The legislative package includes the creation of two new national monuments in Kentucky and Mississippi, a major expansion and redesignation of Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia, and mineral withdrawals that will protect lands near North Cascades and Yellowstone National Parks from new mining operations, among other provisions, including:

  • Expands national parks by more than 42,000 acres, expand the National Trails System by 2,600 miles and add 621 miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
  • Creates 1.3 million acres of new designated wilderness, of which approximately 88,000 acres will be managed by the Park Service, as part of Death Valley National Park.
  • Establishes six new national heritage areas that are managed by the Park Service.
  • Permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of our nation’s most important conservation tools protecting public lands from incompatible development.
  • Continues the Every Kid in a Park program that provides free entry to America’s public lands, including all of our national park sites, for fourth graders and their families.

“Even during these divisive times, when so little legislation is moving through Congress, our national parks and public lands are where people can still find common ground,” added Pierno.

The Senators and Representatives who championed the final pieces of the public lands bill will be honored on Capitol Hill during NPCA’s annual Lobby Day on April 3, 2019. More than 200 park advocates from communities across the country will take to the Hill for NPCA’s Centennial Lobby Day, talking with their elected officials about issues affecting national parks, from watershed restoration to historic preservation and park funding.

The full list of National Park Heritage Award recipients is available here, and more information regarding the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act can be found here.

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About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 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.