October 18, 2019
Dear Chairmen Murkowski and McCollum and Ranking Members Udall and Joyce,
We, the members of the National Parks Second Century Action Coalitioni, write to commend the subcommittees for their work to increase funding for our national parks. We recognize the funding constraints within the final 302(b) allocation, but respectfully ask you to provide the highest level possible for the National Park Service given the agency’s continued fiscal challenges.
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.
Specifically, we request the following:
- The House level of $2.646 billion for NPS Operations to help bring 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;
- The Senate level of $392 million for NPS Construction to address day-to-day and deferred maintenance needs in our parks;
- The House level of $208 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund for national parks, a critical tool for protecting our parks;
- We commend the identical ask of $20 million for National Park Partnerships (Centennial Challenge) to continue progress on park repairs and otherwise help improve the experience for visitors who deeply value our national
In addition, we urge you to keep language in the bill that reauthorizes the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act until October 2021, so that parks and other public lands can continue to keep and use entrance and recreation fee revenue to improve visitor experiences. We are concerned with the use of fee dollars for unintended purposes and appreciate the committees continued concern and oversight of this issue.
Coalition partners also have deep concerns with the Department of the Interior reorganization, its lack of transparency or detailed justification and its potential to undermine the work of National Park Service personnel. We commend both the House and Senate for defunding the initiative and outlining needed oversight. We urge that a final report retain this oversight and that bill language keeps the Department from reprogramming funds or using unobligated funds to pay for the reorganization.
Finally, we urge the final Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill exclusion of all policy riders that harm our national parks.
Thank you for considering our views,
American Hiking Society
American Society of Landscape Architects
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Atomic Heritage Foundation
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
The Corps Network
Evangelical Environmental Network
Friends of Acadia
Friends of Fort McHenry
Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
Friends of Hot Springs National Park
International Inbound Travel Association
Mount Rushmore Society
National Parks Conservation Association
National Park Partners for Chickamauga Chattanooga Moccasin Bend
National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Tour Association Public Lands Alliance
Rocky Mountain Conservancy Scenic America
Southeast Tourism Society
United States Tour Operators Association
Voyageurs National Park Association
Washington’s National Park Fund
cc: Chairman Shelby and Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Members Leahy and Granger
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.