November 19, 2020

Senator Lisa Murkowski
Chairman, Senate Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources

Senator Joe Manchin
Ranking Member, Senate Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources

Representative Raul Grijalva
Chairman, House Natural Resources Committee

Representative Rob Bishop
Ranking Member, House Natural Resources Committee
Senator James Inhofe
Chairman, Senate Committee
on Armed Services

Senator Jack Reed
Ranking Member, Senate Committee
on Armed Services

Representative Adam Smith
Chairman, House Committee on Armed Services

Representative Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member, House Committee on Armed Services

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Manchin, Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed, Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Bishop, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry,

On behalf of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a non-profit organization representing over 1,900 current and former National Park Service employees, we would like to express our support for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), specifically the provisions in the House-passed version that will provide additional protections to our national parks and public lands.

As a group, the Coalition collectively represents more than 40,000 years of national park management experience. We believe that our national parks and related public lands represent the very best of America, and we advocate for effective and collaborative stewardship of them.

There are nearly 3 million acres of public lands that will be protected thanks to several critical NDAA provisions. These provisions will not only help to ensure access to the great outdoors for all Americans, but also will help to support the economies of communities across the country by providing additional opportunities for local tourism and outdoor recreation industries to thrive.

And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Americans from coast-to-coast, our nation’s public lands and outdoor spaces will be vital to our collective recovery. They must be protected for a time when it is safe to gather and enjoy all that our irreplaceable natural and cultural resources have to offer.

Some of the critical public land provisions within the NDAA that the Coalition supports include:

  • The Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, which provides for the designation of the San Juan Wilderness Area, the protection of certain portions of the Thompson Divide from mineral exploration and development, and the designation of the Camp Hale area as a National Historic Landscape in honor of the training done there by the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

In particular, we strongly support the portion of the CORE Act that would officially authorize the establishment of Curecanti National Recreation Area, thus making it a full-fledged member of the National Park System. Designating Curecanti National Recreation Areas as a unit of the National Park System will ensure the protection of its superb resources in perpetuity and provide for continued public access for a variety of recreational purposes. This legislation will also result in an exchange of lands among the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management that will allow each agency to acquire certain parcels that would be most efficient for them to manage.

  • The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, which would make the 2012 temporary uranium-mining ban near the Grand Canyon permanent, thus eliminating speculative mining claims that companies and individuals have staked on public lands, and permanently withdraw one million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon from new mining claims.
  • The public lands bills that made up the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, which include protections for national parks, public lands, and waterways in the states of California, Colorado, and Washington.

We appreciate all you have done to ensure the continued protection of our national parks and public lands, and we encourage you to ensure that the provisions above are included in the final bill.


Phil Francis Signature



Philip A. Francis, Jr.
Chair, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks