"This historic funding not only helps the National Park Service ensure our parks are healthier and stronger, it holds up public lands as a solution and unifying force to face the varied effects of climate change."- Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO
Washington, D.C. – Today the Biden administration announced the first national park projects funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. A historic bill signed in August 2022, the Department of the Interior allocated nearly $700 million to the National Park Service from the IRA to hire more staff and better prepare our parks’ natural, cultural and historic resources to withstand future floods, droughts, storms and other effects of changing climate. Resulting in large part from years of NPCA’s advocacy alongside millions of Americans, the projects address some of the most pressing climate risks parks face today, including extreme heat that threatens habitat and visitors in Biscayne and Death Valley National Parks.
Climate change has threatened parks for years, harming irreplaceable wildlife habitat and making visitation extremely difficult or impossible following catastrophic weather events like those witnessed last summer. Wildfires burned through Yosemite’s sequoia groves and floods in Yellowstone left communities without power and drinking water. Extreme heat and drought continue to threaten the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park, which rely on the Colorado River, and places like Acadia National Park have seen changes in weather patterns resulting in harm to native species essential to local ecosystems, wildlife and surrounding communities. And climate change alters public lands year-round, such as Joshua Tree, where more than half of its current habitat could be lost to hotter and drier conditions. With so many of the nation’s beloved parks having faced the realities of climate change, this funding is critical in the continuation of parks now and through the following century.
The IRA’s funding for national parks will go toward supporting staff and building infrastructure that make our parks stronger to the effects of climate change (creating wildlife habitat, improving pollution runoff, curbing floods and rebuilding other natural systems). This monumental legislation holds up national parks’ significance as natural solutions to the climate crisis. In addition to infrastructure changes, cultural artifacts and historical buildings will receive protection from extreme weather that degrades places as integral to United States history as the Statue of Liberty, which faces the threat of worsening floods year to year, and Mesa Verde, where drought and wildfire destabilize and degrade centuries-old historic structures significant to Ancestral Puebloan people.
Most Americans see or have experienced firsthand climate change’s negative impacts on national parks across the country. And regardless of political affiliation, most of them support the federal government prioritizing investments that will help national parks, as well as staff and communities which rely on them, prepare for climate change. In fact, 4 in 5 Americans support the IRA providing funding to the NPS for projects that make parks stronger in the face of climate threats.
Projects announced today include:
- $1 million to restore the shortgrass prairie sagebrush and Mesquite Bosque ecosystems and $750, 000 to restore federally threatened whitebark pine across western parks, including Grand Teton National Park
- $203,000 to implement coral reef stewardship in six parks in Florida and the US Virgin Islands, including Biscayne National Park, where climate change has set record-breaking water temperatures, bleaching coral reefs and killing marine life
- $8 million to restore aquatic ecosystems to prepare for climate impacts on wildlife, including Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
- $750,000 to assess and treat cultural resources threatened by climate change in Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
- Over $2 million to mining cleanup, including:
- $120,000 to monitor and rehabilitate former mine features in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area,
- $300,000 for the National Park Service to develop a database to document abandoned mine lands and
- $1.7 million to reform abandoned mine land features in Death Valley National Park.
Statement from Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):
“After decades of activists demanding action on climate, Congress and the Biden administration passed monumental legislation to tackle the climate crisis. And today, we are seeing that money being put to work to build our national parks even stronger, helping them avoid the most damaging impacts from rising sea levels, severe fires and floods and extreme drought.
“This first set of climate-related national park projects is an important step toward addressing climate disasters ravaging our national parks and communities. We know that one piece of legislation won’t solve the climate crisis, but it will make our public lands stronger. Our goal is not for parks to simply survive climate change, but to thrive in new conditions with lasting infrastructure. These investments also demonstrate the results of NPCA’s tireless efforts to protect staff and communities who rely on parks’ unique ecosystems and economic value.
“NPCA’s polling shows an overwhelming majority of Americans understands that our national parks and communities are suffering. They’ve witnessed changes to our parks over the years and the need for restoration. This historic funding not only helps the National Park Service ensure our parks are healthier and stronger, it holds up public lands as a solution and unifying force to face the varied effects of climate change.
“We commend the communities, activists and lawmakers who came together to pass legislation that helps parks cope with climate’s worst impacts. But our demands for action cannot end here. NPCA will continue to meet the challenges of climate change with solutions to protect national parks not just today, but for generations to come.”
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 1.5 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
For Media Inquiries
Senior Climate Communications Manager