Senator Lisa Murkowski
Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee
on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies
131 Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510
Senator Tom Udall
Ranking Member, Subcommittee
on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies
125 Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510

September 18, 2019

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:

We, the members of the National Parks Second Century Action Coalitioni, write to commend you for investing in the National Park Service (NPS) in recent years and ask that you capitalize on your recent 302(b) subcommittee allocation to improve the NPS budget in FY20. We were also grateful that you were able to keep the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill free of environmentally damaging policy riders last year and ask that you do the same this year.

We recognize that you have many competing priorities in the bill, and that your allocation can only go so far. However, even a modest increase can keep the agency from falling significantly behind. The increase last year was very helpful for our parks, their staff, their resources, and the people who visit them. We recognize as well that again the 302(b) allocation is a modest increase over last year’s. In this context, we respectfully ask you to do your best to improve funding for our national parks, as they continue to face significant challenges in meeting their needs.

Investing in our national parks does not only protect our heritage but also ensures that our parks can continue to support a robust tourism economy. Last year, national park units received over 318 million visits, supported 329,000 jobs, and generated over $20 billion in direct spending in gateway communities.

The Coalition continues to be concerned that parks remain considerably understaffed, and the House FY20 Interior appropriations bill would help address that challenge. Any effort you can make to approach that

$144 million increase for park operations would be helpful in bringing rangers and other staff back to our parks after a double-digit percentage loss over recent years, in addition to meeting other critical operational needs. Additional investments in the deferred maintenance accounts and the centennial challenge program would continue the progress you’ve been making on park repairs and otherwise help improve the experience for visitors who deeply value our national treasures.

The Coalition also encourages another year extension of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act until a long-term reauthorization bill is enacted. Without an extension, our public lands would lose over $300 million annually. The coalition will continue to advocate for a long-term reauthorization with the respective authorizing committees.

Thank you again for recognizing that our national parks need and deserve an increase in federal resources to support their visitors, businesses and the natural and cultural resources that make parks special. We look forward to working with you in the coming weeks on a final fiscal year 2020 bill that continues to restore national parks for their next 100 years of enjoyment.

Sincerely,

American Hiking Society
American Society of Landscape Architects Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Atomic Heritage Foundation
Big Bend Conservancy
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
The Corps Network
East Bay Regional Park District
Friends of Acadia
Friends of Dyke Marsh
Friends of Fort McHenry
Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
International Inbound Travel Association
National Parks Conservation Association
National Park Partners – Chickamauga Chattanooga Moccasin Bend
National Tour Association
National Trust for Historic Preservation
North Cascades Institute
The Pew Charitable Trusts Public Lands
Alliance Scenic America
Southeast Tourism Society
St. Croix River Association
United States Tour Operations Association
Voyageurs National Park Association Washington’s National Park Fund

Cc: Members of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies


i The National Parks Second Century Action Coalition is made up of organizations supporting conservation, recreation, outdoor industry, travel and tourism and historic preservation that are dedicated to promoting the protection, restoration, and enjoyment of the National Park System for the long-term benefit it offers our nation.