RL33484 - National Park Management
15-Aug-2008; Carol Hardy Vincent, Coordinator, Ross W. Gorte, and Sandra L. Johnson; 18 p.
Update: Previous Releases:
February 21, 2008
August 8, 2007
September 25, 2006
Abstract: The 110th Congress is considering legislation and conducting oversight on National Park Service (NPS) related topics. The Administration is addressing park issues through budgetary, regulatory, and other actions. This report focuses on several key topics.
Centennial Initiative. President Bush’s National Park Centennial Initiative seeks to add up to $3 billion for national park units over 10 years through: (1) an additional $100.0 million annually in discretionary funds; (2) public donations of least $100.0 million annually; and (3) a federal match of the public donations with up to $100.0 million annually. Legislation to establish a mandatory matching program along the lines of the President’s initiative has been introduced (H.R. 2959 and S. 1253), while H.R. 3094 and S. 2817 would take a different approach.
Maintenance Backlog. Attention has focused on the NPS’s maintenance backlog. Estimates of the backlog have increased from an average of $4.25 billion in FY1999 to $9.61 billion in FY2007; it is unclear what portion may be attributable to better estimates or the addition of maintenance work not done on time. The NPS has been defining and quantifying its maintenance needs through comprehensive condition assessments of facilities. The results are being used in part to determine the allocation of maintenance funding and to identify assets for disposal. H.R. 1731 seeks to eliminate the NPS annual operating deficit and maintenance backlog.
Science in the Parks. Various science-related activities pertain to park management. One involves monitoring and protecting air quality — the regional haze issue. Another is possible commercialization (bio-prospecting) of unique organisms found in some park units. The NPS is developing a proposal on benefits sharing — agreements for using the results of research on organisms in parks. A third science-related issue is research in the parks. The NPS receives funds for natural and cultural research programs.
Security. The NPS has sought to enhance security of park units, with efforts focused on national icons and park units along international borders. Evaluations of park police and security operations have been mixed. Several bills pertaining to immigration reform and border security contain provisions to enhance security at park units along U.S. borders. The President is seeking additional funding for FY2009 for park police and law enforcement.
Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Wild and Scenic Rivers System preserves freeflowing rivers, which are designated by Congress or through state nomination with approval by the Secretary of the Interior. The NPS manages 37 river units, totaling 3,043.7 miles. The NPS, and other federal agencies with management responsibility, prepare management plans to protect river values. Management of lands within river corridors is sometimes controversial, in part because of the possible effects of designation on private lands and of corridor activities on the rivers. P.L. 110-229 established the Eightmile Wild and Scenic River. Legislation has been introduced to designate, study, or extend components of the system.