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President’s budget requests $2.6 billion for national parks

National parks across the country could benefit from President Obama's 2015 budget request for the parks.
National parks across the country could benefit from President Obama's 2015 budget request for the parks.
Nic Minetor

President Obama’s budget request for 2015 includes $2.6 billion for the conservation, preservation, and recreation mission of the National Park Service (NPS) as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

The budget boosts essential programs and operational needs for NPS by $38.5 million and adds $16.6 million for fixed cost increases.

The budget proposal would provide targeted increases for the National Park Service Centennial Initiative, a multi-year effort to support preservation of natural, cultural and historic resources protected by the NPS. The centennial initiative has plans to expand the use of parks for informal learning, engage volunteers, provide training opportunities for youth, and enhance the NPS’s ability to leverage partnerships to accomplish its mission.

The budget request also includes a legislative proposal in support of the initiative, providing $400 million in mandatory appropriations annually for three years to fund partnership and deferred maintenance projects.

“As we prepare for our centennial, the President’s budget request recognizes the importance of investing in an historic effort to attract and host more visitors, leverage additional private philanthropy for the parks, and help build the institutional capacity to maintain the parks for the next 100 years,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

The proposal comes on the heels of a report released last week that showed that national parks across the country are important economic engines, generating $26.75 billion in economic activity and supporting 243,000 jobs in 2012.

The Centennial Initiative includes legislative proposals for new, mandatory funding of $400 million a year for three years to benefit NPS and other land management agencies:

 $100 million each year for three years in federal matching funds for NPS Centennial Challenge projects and programs. This proposal will support signature projects at many parks.

 $200 million each year for three years to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the NPS’ deferred maintenance backlog by restoring priority park assets to good condition.

 NPS will have the opportunity to compete for $100 million each year for three years in project funding to meet conservation and maintenance needs through a multi-agency Centennial Land Management Investment Fund.

Overall, the Centennial Initiative will allow NPS to ensure that 20 percent of the highest priority park assets are restored to good condition. The effort creates thousands of jobs over three years, provides more than 10,000 work and training opportunities to young people, and engages more than 265,000 volunteers in support of public lands.

Other highlights in the president’s budget will fund national park operations, new construction for visitor and employee health and safety and environmental restoration, funds for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program, money for the Historic Preservation Fund, and a government-wide Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.

“We are thrilled by the president’s robust budget proposal which, if funded, will produce jobs, enhance the experience of visitors and begin addressing many infrastructure needs in our parks,” said Theresa Pierno, chief operating officer of the National Parks Conservation Association. “From Yellowstone to Gettysburg, the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon—the president’s proposed investment in national parks would put more national park rangers to work to address overdue maintenance needs, enhance the visitor experience, and better connect young people with their natural and cultural heritage, while supporting local economies across the country. Further, the president’s Centennial Initiative offers a bold program to create needed construction jobs while restoring America’s treasures.”

The National Park Service employs more than 20,000 people at 401 national parks in 50 states and four territories. 

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