This investment comes at a critical time for our national parks, which are suffering as their aging infrastructure reaches a breaking point.
Washington, DC – The United States House of Representatives today passed a set of two spending packages, H.R. 1865 and H.R. 1158, to avert a federal government shutdown at midnight on Friday. The bipartisan agreement includes many positive measures and funding increases for the agencies that protect our national parks and public lands. Unfortunately, the agreement leaves Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – one of our most unique national parks – and all it protects vulnerable to the administration’s reckless and unnecessary border wall.
Overall, H.R. 1865 allocates a $155 million increase for the National Park Service. National Park staff numbers have dwindled due to insufficient funding — this increase hopefully takes a step toward filling desperately needed staff positions. The bill also provides strong funding for key Environmental Protection Agency programs, climate change and clean energy research, and geographic programs critical to the National Park System.
Key park provisions included in the bills:
- Increases funding for federal Land Water Conservation Fund program by $24 million, a 54% increase which will allow for land protections at natural, recreational and historic areas, including Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and Cumberland Island National Seashore;
- Provides the Everglades with $200 million to fund construction and allocates nearly $5.5 million for park operations and maintenance;
- Increases funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by $207 million, rejecting the administration’s proposal to gut funding for climate and air quality programs;
- Guarantees funding reauthorizations for five National Heritage Areas – Oil Region National Heritage Area (PA) and National Aviation Heritage Area (OH) and funding cap extensions for South Carolina National Heritage Area (SC), Last Green Valley National Heritage Area (MA/CT) and Erie Canalway National Heritage Area (NY) - places that bring National Park Service expertise to communities seeking to tout their history and cultural resources;
- Includes a provision to ensure cultural resources around Chaco Cultural National Historical Park are studied and protected before oil and gas development moves forward on federal lands;
- Provides $70 million to the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program to address large transportation projects in our national parks, tribal lands and other public lands;
- Provides needed congressional oversight of reprogramming appropriated funds, ensuring the Department of the Interior cannot provide new funds for reorganization without prior congressional approval.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association:
“We commend park champions, on both sides of the aisle who stood up today for the future of our public lands and America’s legacy.
“This investment comes at a critical time for our national parks, which are suffering as their aging infrastructure reaches a breaking point. Trails, roads and visitor centers are crumbling, and staff levels are decreasing. This bill provides needed investments to protect our parks’ irreplaceable resources and enhance the visitor experience for the more than 330 million people that travel to our parks every year.
“While we commend House leadership for the increased investment in our Park System, Congress is falling short on its commitment to protect all of our national parks for the enjoyment of future generations. Approving these spending bills permits the continued destruction of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, releasing bulldozers to scrape the landscape bare, plow down the park’s iconic saguaro cacti and wipe out fragile wildlife habitat. We knew this kind of damage was possible, and now, we are witnessing the worst come to fruition. The administration’s expensive and unnecessary new wall is destroying the very things our national parks were created to preserve and protect, and Congress is letting it happen.
“There is no question that border security is vital to our country, but Congress must ensure the solutions we find don’t destroy the national treasures they’ve committed to protecting. This is not the legacy we should be leaving for our children and grandchildren. An attack on one national park is an attack on all, and NPCA will continue to fight until all of America’s parks are protected.”
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 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/100.
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