The omnibus spending bill for 2015 provides a modest increase for the National Park Service over 2014 enacted. Final numbers are close to the Administration request ($2.615 billion total appropriations, $2.284 operations, ONPS). The ONPS number is increased by $39 million over 2014. While this is notable for these fiscally challenged times, (other agencies have not done so well and in fact have not regained all their sequester losses) it continues a pattern of anemic growth undermined by rising costs. The National Parks Second Century Action Coalition notes that over the last four years, ‘the agency’s operations account has experienced a loss of nearly $234 million in today’s dollars.’ The total appropriation is less than it was in 2010 and ONPS has increased only $20 million since then.
Since 2001 more than half the growth in ONPS ($453 million) has come from other NPS appropriations. The biggest losers have been land acquisition (-$117 million) and construction (-$260 million), but all other appropriations have declined. As a result ONPS is now 87% of the appropriations total, in 2001 it was 64%. (Historical note, in 1981 it was 51% of the total.)
Importantly, the bill extends the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (Fees) through September 30, 2016. Giving us 22 months to work on a new authorization.
The Centennial Challenge received $10 million.
A solution to the dilemma of rising wildfire costs was not included. The National Parks Second Century Action Coalition will ‘encourage reintroduction and passage in the next session’.