Underscores Need to Fully Restore Park Funding in Advance of Park Service Centennial
WASHINGTON – The spending bill for the National Park Service approved by the House Appropriations’ Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee today would increase funds for the agency, but still not meet our national parks’ growing maintenance and operation needs. In addition, the bill includes several policy riders that could undermine critical protections for parks, including for clean water important to the health of park visitors, resources and wildlife.
Below is a statement by Craig Obey, senior vice president for government affairs:
“Despite appropriators’ best efforts to bolster our national parks with additional funds, the bill falls short at a time when our parks need help, in large part because appropriators’ hands are unnecessarily tied.
“The sequester caps are preventing the restoration of funding lost over the last several years, harming the parks and jeopardizing the experience of visitors. This pattern is undermining park resources and the visitor services that support nearly $30 billion in economic activity and more than a quarter million jobs each year.
“Given our parks’ $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog and the loss of over 400 rangers and other staff over the last five years, the only way we’re going to get our parks back on track is to end this damaging cycle of chronic underfunding. With an expected influx of visitors for the Park System’s centennial next year, now is the time for Congress to enact more realistic budget caps and give the agency the funds it needs to protect our nation’s parks for another 100 years.”
Select Bill Details:
- A $52.5 million increase in the overall National Park Service budget over last year’s level, but $382 million short of the president’s request to prepare our parks for another century.
- A $1.2 million increase in the park construction account that addresses the maintenance backlog, but $111 million short of the president’s request and 62% below a decade ago in today’s dollars.
- A $52 million increase in the budget to operate national parks over last year’s level, but $187 million short of the president’s request.
- A needed $20 million increase for the Centennial Challenge, which leverages private dollars with a federal investment for signature projects to address the backlog and enhance visitor services.
- Policy riders undermining stream protections and the ability of the Clean Water Act to protect numerous bodies of water.
- A $24 million, 46% cut in park service federal land acquisition, an account that helps prevent incompatible development within national parks.
About the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA): Together with our one million members and supporters, NPCA speaks for America’s national parks. Since our founding in 1919, NPCA has been an independent, nonpartisan voice working to strengthen and protect our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage. Your voice is needed to help protect, connect, and restore these incredible places for present and future generations. Learn more at www.npca.org.
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