"This funding will help our parks bring back hundreds of staff to safely welcome the millions of people who visit them and keep gateway communities up and running.” - Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO
Washington, DC – Today, after months of negotiations and delays, Congress introduced an omnibus funding bill for fiscal year 2023, which calls for a much-needed increase of more than $210 million (a 6.4% increase) to the National Park Service (NPS). The bill also includes $1.5 billion in critically needed supplemental disaster funding for Yellowstone and other parks still reeling from recent natural disasters. With these increases, NPS will be able to hire hundreds of desperately needed park staff, better protect parks’ historical and natural resources, address longstanding maintenance needs, and provide more funding to historic preservation and interpretation at park sites across the country. Today reflects the hard work of Congressional park champions and NPCA and our passionate advocates, who wrote, called and demanded that lawmakers prioritize our national parks.
Natural disaster funding included in the bill will also help parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Denali and Lake Mead rebuild and recover from recent natural disasters. We witnessed record floods, severe storms and hurricanes destroy communities, shut down businesses and rip through our parks, jeopardizing their landscapes, plants, wildlife and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources. Congress must continue to invest in aging park infrastructure to ensure parks can be better prepared to withstand these intensifying climate change impacts.
“This bill is a sign that lawmakers are picking up the pace on annual national park funding and recognizing the numerous challenges facing these iconic places,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association. “This year was a wakeup call as we witnessed severe natural disasters take a costly toll on our already underfunded and understaffed national parks. The scenes of floods demolishing Yellowstone and Death Valley, wildfires burning through Yosemite and droughts preventing people from accessing Lake Mead and devastating surrounding communities will not quickly be forgotten. Thankfully, this funding will help our parks bring back hundreds of staff to safely welcome the millions of people who visit them and keep gateway communities up and running.”
Additional park provisions in the FY2023 budget:
- Total of $29 million (8% increase) for the National Heritage Area program, which protects our cultural heritage and supports dozens of communities across the country.
- A 22% increase for the United States Geological Survey’s National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers that help NPS adapt parks to the changing climate.
- Increase of $576 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), funding essential for the protection our air, water, park landscapes and the health of our communities.
- Total of $682 million (6% increase) for EPA’s geographic programs essential to watershed protection and restoration, providing $92 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, $368 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and $8.5 million for the South Florida program.
- Total of $447 million (28% increase) for the Army Corps of Engineer’s South Florida Ecosystem Restoration program to continue construction of Everglades restoration projects.
- Total of $11.5 million to implement the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act
- Total of $1.67 billion for EPA’s Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds to provide clean water to communities, including those impacted by recent disasters.
The legislative package also includes bills that will further enhance and protect our National Park System. The Pullman National Historical Park Act redesignates the current national monument as a national historical park and provides the National Park Service with the ability to enter cooperative agreements, provide technical assistance and acquire land from willing sellers. The provisions in this bill are critical for the National Park Service to work with its many partners and improve this historic treasure on Chicago’s south side. Secondly, the National Park Foundation Reauthorization Act reauthorizes the National Park Foundation’s appropriation through 2030 and increases the authorization level from $5 million to $15 million. This funding will support the agency on such issues as deferred maintenance needs and visitation challenges.
Unfortunately, many bipartisan bills were stalled and excluded from the end-of-year legislative package, such as legislation that would have finally established a new system for National Heritage Areas and protected some of our country’s last open spaces in California’s Rim of the Valley. NPCA will continue to work with the 118th Congress to ensure our landscapes and cultural resources are protected for future generations.
“While we wrap up the year with some great progress for our national parks, we also recognize the missed opportunities to better protect America’s rich and diverse history. We will build on today’s momentum and continue to fight for the funding and resources our parks need and deserve. And we will not stop until we ensure that everyone feels welcome in our parks and has access, no matter where they live, to these places,” said Pierno.
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) 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
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