Press Release May 28, 2021

President’s Budget Calls for Historic and Necessary Funding Increases to National Parks, Air and Water

"Today's historic budget plan from the Biden administration comes as a welcome and much needed change for our national parks, their staff and all who love and care for these treasured places." - Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO

Washington, DC – Today, the Biden administration released its detailed budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, which calls for a historic and much-needed increase of nearly $381 million (a 12% increase) to the National Park Service (NPS) budget. If enacted, these funding increases would greatly help in the protection, maintenance and operation of our more than 420 national parks, which are expecting one of the busiest summer seasons on record after the coronavirus pandemic halted park trips in 2020.

President Biden’s proposed increase would allow the NPS to hire desperately needed park staff, as well as address longstanding maintenance needs, and provide more funding to historic preservation and interpretation at park sites across the country. Additionally, President Biden is proposing more investments to combat the climate crisis facing our parks and communities, pushing for green infrastructure and clean energy, and doing so with a commitment to environmental justice.

The administration’s budget also calls for an increase of $2 billion (a nearly 22% increase) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency responsible for implementing and enforcing laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act so we can breathe healthy air, swim in clean water and enjoy scenic national park vistas unmarred by air pollution. This increase would help to protect and restore aquatic landscapes and the parks within them like the Great Lakes, Everglades, and Chesapeake Bay, as well as replenish EPA staff and invest in key programs necessary to clean the air and climate in our parks and communities.

Additional park provisions in the President’s budget, includes:

  • $295 million increase to operate national parks and ensure better resource protection.
  • An increase of more than a thousand rangers and other staff across the Park Service after years of eroding staffing levels.
  • $270 million investment to increase scientific capacity and better understand and adapt to climate change threats, including $20 million for Zero Emissions Vehicles.
  • $45 million for a Civilian Climate Corps, which would put people to work in national parks repairing infrastructure to better adapt to climate change threats.
  • Additional $15 million to preserve and tell the stories of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups.
  • $350 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance Everglades restoration and resilient infrastructure projects aimed at restoring water flow to the national parks of South Florida.
  • $800,000 as part of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility initiative across the Department of the Interior.

For years, the NPS has experienced chronic underfunding, including an erosion of staffing and a growing backlog of billions of dollars in needed repairs – all while dealing with record visitation. While Congress made a major investment to fix national parks’ crumbling roads, worn-out trails, failing water systems, and other critical maintenance issues through last year’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, decades-long funding issues continue to make it difficult for park staff to protect our national parks while providing visitors with the park experiences they deserve. Now, Congress and the administration must ensure park staff have the resources they need to provide exceptional visitor experiences and protect our parks’ irreplaceable natural and cultural resources.

Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association:

“After four years of one massive budget cut proposal after another, today’s historic 2022 budget plan from the Biden administration proposes one of the biggest funding increases for our national parks in decades. And as parks continue to experience record visitation, increased funding will be even more critical to meet this demand and provide inspirational visitor experiences.

“Congress made great strides last year, passing legislation that is fixing our parks’ decaying buildings and outdated water systems, supporting the operation of parks and providing hundreds of thousands of much-needed jobs. But there is more work to be done as parks across the country continue to operate on shoestring budgets while dealing with decreased staffing, record visitation and intensifying threats from climate change.

“This is a bold budget and a major first step to getting our parks back on the right track. If enacted by Congress, these funding increases would allow our national parks to finally start digging themselves out of the burdensome financial hole they’ve faced for over a decade. These funding increases would ensure children can continue to learn about our history at Harper’s Ferry and Gettysburg, Yellowstone’s bison and wolves can thrive, and scientists can help address the effects of climate change at Acadia and Glacier.

“National parks not only protect our most iconic landscapes and cherished stories, but they are also proven economic engines, generating more than $42 billion and supporting more than 340,000 jobs annually. It’s clear that when we make national parks a priority, our communities and economies benefit. Now, Congress must step up again and do the right thing and provide the robust funding our parks, park staff and the American people so desperately need and deserve.”

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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 more than 1.6 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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