July 23, 2020
We, the members of the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition 1i 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., ask that you support the FY21 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill as part of the minibus package. We also urge you to oppose any policy riders that harm our national parks.
We support the robust $200 million increase for park operations to help bring back park rangers and other staff to better manage our national parks. Between 2011 and 2019, NPS lost 16% of its staff while at the same time struggling to accommodate a 17% increase in visitation. Parks are short-staffed for many duties including education, interpretation and other visitor services; science; maintenance; resource protection and management; and more. This increase will help restore some of those lost positions and continue to help address the needs associated with the continued COVID-19 crisis.
We also support the continued investment in the Centennial Challenge, a program that leverages philanthropic dollars with at least a one-to-one match of federal dollars for signature projects that improve the visiting experience, including deferred maintenance and park programs. Recent signature projects include addressing deferred maintenance at the historic Hammond-Cranz farm in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and supporting Native American recreational programming at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Many more philanthropic opportunities await continued funding.
The Coalition appreciates the acknowledgment that increasing staff to help restore the capacity that has been lost in recent years is important in order to help address a wide-range of NPS duties, including deferred maintenance. Staffing is important, however; so is continued robust discretionary funding for the deferred maintenance accounts. While the solution to address NPS’s nearly $12 billion repair backlog requires a combination of dedicated funding, consideration of appropriate policy reforms, and enhanced public-private partnerships, adequate discretionary funding remains essential for NPS to keep pace with maintenance needs, over three-quarters of which are priority projects.
Specifically, within the Operation of the National Park System (ONPS) and Construction appropriations, we urge you to maximize allocations for the Repair and Rehabilitation, Cyclic Maintenance and Line Item Construction accounts. These programs are critical in helping the agency undertake maintenance projects that keep our national parks accessible and safe. The
increases in these three accounts over the last several years have been very important to help keep the backlog from growing and we urge you to continue this support.
Finally, we appreciate the reauthorization the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act through FY22 until a long-term reauthorization occurs by the authorizing committees. Without reauthorization, the National Park Service stands to lose over $340 million dollars in collected fee dollars that enhance national park experiences.
It is our sincere hope that people will enjoy our national parks to their fullest following the COVID-19 crisis and help restore the economies of the gateway communities. In 2018, 318 million park visitors spent an estimated $20.2 billion in local gateway regions while visiting NPS lands across the country. These expenditures supported a total of 329 thousand jobs. In addition, America’s outdoor recreation economy supports over five million American jobs and contributes over $778 billion in annual economic output. NPS needs the financial resources to ensure the visitors have the experience they deserve when the parks are reopened fully. Therefore, we ask you to vote in support of the FY21 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill as part of the minibus package.
Thank you for considering our views,
American Hiking Society
American Society of Landscape Architects
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
The Corps Network
Friends of Acadia
Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
International Inbound Travel Association
National Parks Conservation Association
National Park Partners
National Tour Association
Mount Rushmore Society
Public Lands Alliance
Southeast Tourism Society
St. Croix River Association
United States Tour Operators Association