Press Release Feb 2, 2015

President's Budget Calls for Historic Investment in National Parks in Advance of 2016 Centennial

President's Budget Calls for Historic Investment in National Parks in Advance of 2016 Centennial

WASHINGTON– The Obama Administration’s 2016 budget proposal, released today, seeks to rectify years of chronic underfunding with a significant investment in park operations and more than $1 billion to address the National Park System’s $11.3 billion maintenance backlog. It also funds a public-private partnership – the Centennial Challenge – in connection with the system’s 2016 centennial.

Below is a statement by Craig Obey, NPCA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs:

“Today’s budget proposal calls for substantial and much-needed investment in our country’s most treasured natural and historical places. As our National Park System heads into its centennial, this budget seizes the moment to turn the tide on years of underfunding and put our parks on a path to thrive for another hundred years. This is an important, viable investment in our parks that serve as the economic engines for tourism and recreation in communities nationwide.

“The centennial of the National Park System should catalyze a renewed commitment to protect America’s most special places. We have an opportunity for a bipartisan effort to reverse years of neglect and restore our parks while creating jobs and boosting local economies. The National Park Service is entrusted with these treasured sites, but it is Congress that is entrusted with making sure they will last. The administration and Congress can and should work together to forge a budget process that will set our national parks on a course for a bold second century.”

Key Takeaways from President Obama’s Park Budget Proposal:

  • The budget request calls for an investment of an additional $433 million in appropriated funds into the National Park Service, a 17% increase over last year’s level.
  • The National Park Service operations budget request restores funding to levels prior to the sequester and other cuts, calling for a $239 million increase for a total of $2.5 billion.
  • The budget includes funding to support construction and partnerships in Fiscal Year 2016. The proposal calls for a $113 million increase for construction, restoring that account to prior levels, and a $40 million increase for the Centennial Challenge, a public-private partnerships that leverages matching donations for specific projects throughout the country that are critical to preparing the parks for their next hundred years.

The president’s budget proposes a multi-year effort to fund the parks and includes a proposal for mandatory funds that must be authorized by Congress. It includes $100 million per year for three years to provide a more robust investment in the Centennial Challenge and provides at least $300 million annually over that same timeframe to significantly address the deferred maintenance backlog.

Important Background:

  • There has been more than a 7%, or $173 million reduction in the account to operate national parks and more than a 12%, or $364 million reduction in the total budget for the National Park Service over the last five years in today’s dollars. Over the last decade since 2005, the total budget for the National Park Service has declined by nearly a half billion dollars, or 22%, in today’s dollars.
  • The National Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog has steadily been growing, now at a total of more than $11 billion. Projects are continually added to the backlog in part due to insufficient operations funding to ensure needed day-to-day maintenance.
  • The backlog has also grown because of a steady decline in the construction account. Over the last decade, there has been a 62% or $227 million decline in that account in today’s dollars.
  • The Park Service budget represents just one-fifteenth of 1% of the federal budget, costing the average family about as much as a cup of coffee each year in income tax dollars.
  • According to a nonpartisan poll conducted by Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research, 9 out of 10 likely voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased.

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NPCA is part of National Parks Second Century Action Coalition, which is dedicated to promoting the protection, restoration, and operation of the National Park System to benefit park visitors for the next hundred years and beyond. To learn more or to speak to one of our national coalition partners please see below or visit: www.npca.org/secondcenturyaction.

“America’s national parks protect some of our nation’s most iconic and beautiful outdoor playgrounds in the world, helping the outdoor recreation industry support $646 billion in consumer spending and more than six million jobs annually,” said Jessica Wahl, Recreation Policy Advisor, Outdoor Industry Association. “As the National Park System celebrates their centennial year, a robust federal investment as proposed by the President will ensure unforgettable recreational opportunities for generations to come.”

“The more than 1,000 members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are calling for a renewed commitment to protect our parks. Parks are our shared heritage, and they tell the story of America. Let’s all work together to ensure that our parks are unimpaired for future generations,” said Maureen Finnerty, Chairperson, Executive Council, The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

“From the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Chaco Cultural National Historical Park to the Fort Monroe National Monument and so many other places, national parks tell the stories of all Americans,” said Tom Cassidy, Vice-President of Government Affairs, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Investments in national parks are essential to protect our historic and cultural resources, especially as we approach the centennial anniversary of our National Parks.”

“National parks are a major catalyst for travel and tourism domestically and internationally – nine out of ten Americans have visited a national park while one in five international visitors travels to a park service unit during their stay in the United States. Every dollar invested in the National Park Service generates $10 in economic activity, and makes communities across the nation viable and proud. The National Parks Hospitality Association is proud to be a partner to the National Park Service, helping create treasured memories of experiences for some 100 million visitors annually,” stated Derrick Crandall, Counselor, National Parks Hospitality Association.

“In an incredibly competitive global travel marketplace, it is our national parks that make the U.S. an irreplaceable destination. There are beautiful hotels in beautiful cities all around the world, but there is only one Grand Canyon or Yellowstone or Acadia; you can’t experience them by flying to some other country just because it’s closer or cheaper,” stated Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association. "Moreover, national parks are the anchor for dozens of regional economies, supporting hundreds of thousands of travel-related jobs in businesses like hotels, restaurants and tour companies. The American travel community fervently hopes that the pivotal cultural and economic assets that are our national parks are provided the necessary investment as proposed in the President’s budget.”

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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.