Lawmakers from both parties have put forward legislation to help restore America’s national parks. In 2016, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the National Park Service Centennial Act, which provided a mechanism to generate up to $50 million annually to address deferred maintenance at park sites. Congress is now considering other measures to partially fund an $11.6 billion repair backlog:
The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), would direct dedicated annual federal funding to address deferred maintenance for the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The act (H.R. 6510) brings together the best provisions of the previously introduced National Park Service Legacy Act and National Park Restoration Act. The House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill by a voice vote Sept. 13.
The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would:
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced legislation in June that would address the multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog of the NPS. The Restore Our Parks Act (S. 3172) brings together the best components of the previously introduced National Park Service Legacy Act and National Park Restoration Act. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the measure Oct. 2.
The Restore Our Parks Act would:
In March 2018, Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Angus King (I-ME), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the National Park Restoration Act (H.R. 5210 and S. 2509, respectively). The measure would establish a fund in the U.S. Treasury to direct federal funds to national park maintenance needs each year.
Similar to the National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017 and the Land and National Park Deferred Maintenance Act, the fund would be primarily financed from onshore and offshore revenues not already obligated for other purposes under law. The Restoration Act also would be financed by renewable revenues (such as solar, hydro, and wind energy). Specifically, 50 percent of onshore, offshore, and renewable revenues above a projected baseline would go into the fund each year, over a 10-year period.
As written, the funding mechanism may result in inconsistent revenue generation from year to year and it needs to be improved.
The Senate bill was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Its House companion bill was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.
In spring 2017, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) introduced the National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751 and H.R. 2584, respectively), bipartisan legislation to help restore our deteriorating park infrastructure.
The Legacy Act would establish a federal fund to provide dedicated annual resources to restore national park infrastructure. By providing consistent, reliable funding to address overdue maintenance, the measure would help protect our natural and historic treasures and ensure that local communities continue to benefit from park visitor spending.
The bill would:
The legislation would stipulate that:
The Senate bill was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Its House companion bill was referred to the House Natural Resources and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.
Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) introduced the Land and National Park Deferred Maintenance (LAND) Act in June. The bill addresses the chronic underfunding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and deferred maintenance by providing dedicated annual money for conservation and repair needs on lands under the jurisdiction of the Interior and Agriculture departments’ four land management agencies. The funds would come from onshore and offshore mineral revenue that is not already dedicated to existing programs. Established in 1964, the LWCF finances federal and state land acquisitions to preserve public lands and natural resources.
The LAND Act would:
The legislation was referred to the House Natural Resources, Budget, and Agriculture committees.
In June 2017, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Energy and Natural Resources Act. Part of this bipartisan legislation would help address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog at national park sites.
The bill would:
The measure would also permanently reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
It was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
President Barack Obama signed the National Park Service Centennial Act into law Dec. 16, 2016.
Raised the senior pass fee to generate about $25 million for the Centennial Challenge Fund and about $10 million for the endowment annually. A public-private match provision could generate another $25 million for the fund each year.