Statement by NPCA Chief Operating Officer Theresa Pierno
Background : Several legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress to reimburse those states that donated funds in order to re-open several national parks during the October government shutdown. Without congressional action, the federal government has no legal authority to provide reimbursements that are now being requested. One bill (HR 3286) was reported out of the House Natural Resources Committee in December, but has not received a floor vote. The Senate has not moved the companion bill (S 1572) or a second proposal (S 2104).
“Although those states signed donation agreements to re-open national parks that clearly stated there was no guarantee they would be reimbursed, they judged that risk to be worth taking in light of the enormous economic importance of national parks to state and local economies. Utah alone saw a 10:1 return on its donation.
“The funding of national parks is, first and foremost, a federal responsibility. The partial shutdown of the federal government, which should never have happened, resulted in the expenditure of approximately $2 million of donated funds by the National Park Service that reopened parks before the shutdown ended. In light of the federal responsibility to fund our national parks, NPCA believes it appropriate that the states in question be reimbursed for the expenses they incurred.
“We support congressional efforts to authorize reimbursement to the states involved. That said, it is also important to recognize that the National Park Service was required to incur unbudgeted expenses in closing and reopening national parks across the country. Therefore, if reimbursements are made directly from the National Park Service’s operating account, they likely will require cutbacks from budgeted expenses for fiscal year 2014. We encourage Congress to seek sources of reimbursement that do not result in an effective cut to the National Park Service’s operating budget for the current fiscal year.”
About 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 one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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