Washington, D.C. – In anticipation of the National Park Service (NPS) centennial in 2016, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today guided legislation through the Committee that will clear the way for a huge infusion of funding to the Park Service in advance of the celebration.
“The Centennial bill will lay the foundation to celebrate the coming 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and to foster greater commitment and investment for the second century of NPS. This bill encourages investments to address the funding shortfall that has historically occurred within the NPS. In addition, it goes beyond the bricks and mortars, establishing new initiatives that ensure the youth and diverse communities are brought into the National Parks System to be included as future stewards of the public lands,” Grijalva said.
“The National Park Service is without question one of the greatest conservation agencies in the world. But as we approach the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, we are well aware that our National Park System faces many challenges. The legislation approved by the Committee will provide America’s Parks with the funding they deserve and equip the agency with the tools it needs to keep the system in world class shape, and in a condition visitors expect and deserve,” Rahall said.
In February 2007, the Bush Administration unveiled the broad outline of a Centennial Initiative to increase NPS funding over the 10 years leading up to the anniversary. The initiative included a Centennial Challenge of $100 million per year in mandatory spending, yet the Administration’s proposal failed to provide the Congress with a means for funding the program.
As approved by the Committee, the National Park Centennial Fund Act (H.R. 3094), introduced by Grijalva and co-sponsored by Rahall, will provide for $30 million in annual mandatory appropriations over the next decade. While short of the $100 million proposed by the Administration, this temporary solution offers an opportunity to move forward with the initiative. The sponsors of the legislation will continue to work with the Administration and House Leadership to identify sources of additional funding for the Centennial Challenge.
The Grijalva-Rahall legislation adopted by the Committee identifies seven initiatives in which proposed centennial projects must fall, and grants the Congress the authority to review a list of proposed projects each fiscal year. The seven initiatives are:
- Education in Parks
- Diversity in Parks
- NPS Professional Development
- Environmental Leadership
- Natural Resource Protection
- Health and Fitness in Parks
- Cultural Resource Protection
The NPS, which will celebrate its centennial on August 25, 2016, today manages a network of 391 natural, cultural, and recreational sites encompassing 84 million acres and attracting over 270 million visitors each year.
“I thank Secretary Kempthorne, First Lady Laura Bush, Parks Subcommittee Chairman Raul Grijalva, and the National Parks Conservation Association for their leadership and tireless efforts to see that our Parks are protected for future generations to enjoy for centennials to come,” Rahall said.