President Trump has proposed a $2.8 billion Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the National Park Service (NPS) prioritizing core mission capacity, increasing recreational and public access and infrastructure improvement.
The Public Lands Infrastructure Fund would help address billions of dollars’ worth of backlogged maintenance, including structures, trails, roads, and utility systems across the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. The proposal would allocate $6.5 billion over five years, supported by the deposit of 50 percent of all Federal energy development revenue that would otherwise be credited or deposited as miscellaneous receipts to the Treasury over the 2020–2024 period.
"President Trump’s budget supports our ongoing efforts to rebuild, restore, and reinvigorate park facilities and infrastructure for this and future generations,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “The President’s request provides funding to modernize our aging facilities, increase accessibility to our public lands for all visitors, and improve our resilience and response to fires and natural disasters.”
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee stated yesterday, “I am also glad to see the budget continues to include the president’s proposal to rebuild our national parks. The Restore Our Parks Act, legislation that I introduced with Senators Portman, Warner, and King, is based on the president’s proposal and will cut in half the maintenance backlog at our national parks. This legislation is the only way to address the deferred maintenance backlog in our 419 national parks, and the Trump Administration agrees."
The President’s budget continues to emphasize infrastructure and asset management. The NPS asset portfolio includes more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 21,000 miles of trails and 25,000 buildings that serve more than 300 million annual national park visitors. To manage NPS assets, the budget proposes $844.2 million for facility operations and maintenance. Aging facilities and high visitation have created a significant need for infrastructure and facility recapitalization and modernization. To address those needs, the facility operations and maintenance funding includes $188.2 million for cyclic maintenance projects and $121.1 million for repair and rehabilitation projects.
In addition to operations funding, the President’s budget provides $192.6 million for the construction appropriation, which funds construction projects, equipment replacement, project planning and management, and special projects. This includes $127.8 million for line-item construction projects.
These discretionary fund sources are critical to help address the significant maintenance requirements across the NPS. Additionally, the recreation fee program allows the NPS to collect recreation fees at selected parks to improve visitor services and enhance the visitor experience. In 2019, NPS leveraged $175 million in recreation fees to address priority maintenance projects to improve the visitor experience. The NPS estimates that in FY 2020 and FY 2021, $200 and $205 million in fee revenues respectively will be utilized for similar facility and infrastructure projects.
The FY 2021 NPS budget requests $2.5 billion for park operations. The budget proposes $44.2 million to support and enhance diverse public access and recreational opportunities, including $1 million for the Veterans Trades Apprentice Corps, $7.5 million for trail rehabilitation and $1.2 million for family camping experiences and education. The budget also proposes $7 million for increases in operational funding for new and critical responsibilities, including $223,000 for the life home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and $300 thousand for Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site.
To mitigate wildfire risk to visitors, staff and park infrastructure, the budget proposes an increase of $3 million ($4 million in total) for infrastructure resiliency projects at the most urgent sites.
The President’s budget also proposes $11 million to support large-scale wildlife conservation efforts focused on leveraging collaboration between parks and neighboring communities, tribes and states with the goal of implementing all state and local conservation Action Plans.
Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park