Report Apr 3, 2024

Challenge Congress to Provide $250 Million for History and Culture at our National Parks

Full Report (5.67 MB)

History is at the heart of our national parks. Many national parks preserve stories of a battles, turning points, triumphs, and tragedies, or simply the lives of ordinary Americans. Since the National Park Service’s creation by Congress back in 1916, the agency has been charged with protecting and interpreting American history.

Nowadays, National Park Service rangers are some of our nation’s foremost storytellers and historians. It’s part of the job.

Parks take us back to moments that were integral to our country’s founding. Minute Man National Historical Park commemorates the “shot heard round the world” at Concord Bridge that started the Revolutionary War. At Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed, founder John Hancock wanted his name to be large enough for the King of England to easily read. These are places in the care of the National Park Service to protect in perpetuity and tell stories that can live on for generations to come.

But only with the proper funding. Without a much-needed influx of cash, the Park Service’s ability to maintain high standards for managing historic and cultural resources is in serious jeopardy.

View Online A Cultural Resource Challenge for the National Park Service

Year after year, the National Park Service is forced to do more with less. Due to woefully inadequate budgets from Congress, NPS has consistently prioritized natural resources management over cultural resources management. For example, the number of historians employed by the Park Service has dropped by nearly 25 percent since 2011. Out of 20,000 NPS employees, only 138 are historians.

This precipitous decline in staffing and funding could not have arrived at a worst time. On July 4, 2026, the United States will commemorate the 250th anniversary of our independence from Great Britain. The observance of this momentous anniversary will be marked by celebration and programs that inform and inspire the public about the founding of our nation, what it took to gain and keep our independence, and our ongoing efforts to create and sustain a more perfect union.

Our national parks will be at the center of these celebrations – and they are not prepared. Our parks do not have the funding and people power that they need to make America’s 250th anniversary the best it can be. But there’s still time to fix that.

In honor of America’s upcoming 250th anniversary, the National Parks Conservation Association is calling on Congress to fulfill our Cultural Resources Challenge: provide $250 million in funding over five years, specifically allocated to help the National Park Service protect, restore, and archive our country’s diverse history.

This new funding would help ensure NPS has the cultural resource professionals (archeologists, archivists, curators, ethnographers, historians, interpretive rangers, specialists, and technicians) to interpret, manage, and preserve our shared historic and cultural legacies for the 250th anniversary commemoration and beyond.

More money would give park staff the opportunity to digitize archives, expanding visitor access to unique American artifacts from anywhere in the world and helping park professionals keep better track of the system’s historic objects. It would also allow the Park Service to plan accordingly to protect precious cultural resources from fire, flood, and other extreme weather resulting from climate change.

Tell Congress to rise to the challenge and give America’s diverse history and heritage a fighting chance! Fund our national parks dedicated to cultural resources, and fast.

Read more from NPCA