May 25, 2021
Dear Members of the Environment and Public Works Committee,
We, the members of the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition1The 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., write in support of the significant investments for national parks, in particular the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) and Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Project Program (NSFLTP), in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021. However, the coalition is disappointed that the committee did not include support for the National Scenic Byways Program and support any effort to include funding for the program.
Increased investments for the FLTP and NSFLTP would provide necessary funding to help address the billions of dollars of transportation maintenance needs, such as paved roads, parking lots, tunnels, bridges, throughout the National Park System.
The FLTP was established to support the transportation infrastructure owned and maintained by the federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service (NPS). The proposed investments would provide the NPS the necessary resources to further chip away at the remaining backlog of maintenance needs and maintain current assets, while also providing jobs throughout the country.
The increased funding for NSFLTP would provide a necessary funding stream for federal lands and tribes to address massive infrastructure projects needing a large investment at one time. In recent years, the program’s funding has been used for Natchez Trace Parkway, Yellowstone National Park and Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. The most recent award provided funding for the overdue replacement of the propane-powered Zion shuttle buses with cost-efficient battery-electric buses, which will cut down on air pollution in and around the park and ensure public access. We appreciate the additional funding, particularly the $55 million dedicated funding for this program.
However, the coalition is disappointed that the committee did not include funding support for the National Scenic Byways Program and support any effort to include dedicated funding for the program. The coalition requested $325 million over five years in guaranteed funding for the National Scenic Byways Program.
The National Scenic Byways Program was established by Congress in 1991 to preserve and protect the nation’s scenic but often less-traveled roads and promote tourism and economic development. Several national park roads contain or are adjacent to scenic byways. For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway and George Washington Memorial Parkway are both national parks and national scenic byways. And Death Valley Scenic Byway is the main route to and through Death Valley National Park and Great River Road National Byway runs through Vicksburg National Military Park. Resources are needed to support the program with competitive grants for states to install interpretive signs and directional signs and build visitor centers. Our national parks and public lands generate billions of dollars for local economies in tourism dollars, jobs, and tax revenue. Repairing and maintaining them is a smart investment, and will create additional infrastructure-related jobs, as well as preserve visitor access and resources. Thank you for the support and considering our request for specific funding to support the National Scenic Byways Program as the bill moves forward.
American Society of Landscape Architects
American Hiking Society
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Evangelical Environmental Network
International Inbound Travel Association
National Parks Conservation Association
National Tour Association
Rocky Mountain Conservancy
RV Industry Association
St. Croix River Association
United States Tour Operators Association