Press Release Jun 23, 2015

Senate Appropriations Bill Offers a Modest Increase for National Parks but Falls Short in Providing Adequate Funding for Park System Centennial

Spending bill would increase overall National Park Service budget but still falls short in meeting operation and maintenance needs of our national parks.

WASHINGTON – The spending bill for the National Park Service approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week would increase overall funds for the agency slightly above the spending proposal in the House, but still falls short in meeting the operation and maintenance needs of our national parks. Although appropriators attempted to focus a measure of priority on our parks, the budget caps governing their allocation simply did not allow the resources necessary to do so adequately.

Like the House version, the Senate bill includes several policy riders that undermine clean water and air protections that could harm park visitors, ecosystems and wildlife. During last week’s markup, Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-N.M.) fought for more robust funding for the parks in advance of the Park System Centennial, and to strip from the bill the many damaging policy riders.

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

“Senator Udall provided welcome leadership, highlighting the shortcomings of the proposal for our national parks. Because the sequester budget caps have tied appropriators’ hands, the Senate Interior appropriations bill does not adequately support our National Park System as we enter its centennial year.”

“With our parks suffering from an $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog and the loss of over 400 rangers and other staff over the last 5 years, now is the time for Congress to take Senator Udall’s lead and enact more realistic budget caps to ensure our parks have the resources they need to thrive in their second century.”

Select Bill Details:

  • A proposal to fund excess wildfire suppression costs through an emergency account, an important and needed proposal that would not only improve budgeting, but relieve appropriators of the additional burden of funding the most catastrophic wildfires through an allocation that is already severely constrained by the sequester.
  • A $47.5 million increase in the budget to operate national parks over last year’s level, but $4.5 million less than the House bill and $191 million short of the president’s request.
  • A needed $54.5 million increase in the park construction account that addresses the maintenance backlog, a $53.3 million increase over the House bill but only half of the President’s request.
  • Level funding of $10 million 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 the minimization of impacts from oil and gas development on federal lands and the ability of the Clean Water Act to protect numerous bodies of water.
  • A $5 million increase, a nearly $20 million increase over the House bill, in park service federal land acquisition over last year, to help prevent incompatible development within national parks.

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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.