This is an excellent story on funding national parks from the Property & Environment Research Center.
Testimony provided to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on “Funding the National Park System for the Next Century,” July 25, 2013.
1. Main points:
- Local managers know better than Congress how to address their maintenance and operational needs.
- Overreliance on congressional appropriations contributes to maintenance backlogs and causes park managers to respond to political forces rather than park users.
- Congress should continue to allow the National Park Service to charge recreation fees and retain most of the revenue onsite to reinvest in infrastructure and operations.
- The federal government should stop acquiring new land and use revenues from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the maintenance and operation of existing federal lands.
- Congress should look to state parks for innovative management strategies such as public-private partnerships that can improve park operations and reduce funding needs.
Thank you, Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Murkowski, and members of the committee, for the opportunity to provide testimony today on how to address the National Park Service’s backlog of deferred maintenance and operational needs. As the agency prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, creative solutions and responsible policies are needed to address the challenges of running parks in the twenty-first century.
In short, I will argue today that local park managers know better than Congress how to address their maintenance and operational needs. Congress should give the National Park Service broad discretion in how it allocates its appropriations and revenues. When funding is appropriated by Congress for specific projects, it reduces the ability of local park managers to address local park needs. Second, an overreliance on congressional appropriations can cause park managers to cater more to the demands of politicians than to the ongoing maintenance needs in their parks. Congress should continue to explore alternative funding strategies that reduce parks’ reliance on general appropriations.