Thomas C. Kiernan
National Parks Conservation Association
on Interior and Related Agencies
U.S. House of Representatives
April 3, 2003
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is the only national,
nonprofit conservation organization that advocates exclusively for
the national parks. Through public education, advocacy, and citizen
outreach, NPCA works to protect, preserve, and enhance America's National
Park System for present and future generations.
NPCA is pleased to share its views regarding the programs in the
Department of Interior's budget that affect national park resources
and requests that this statement be included in the hearing record
for the Fiscal Year 2004 Interior and Related Agencies appropriations
bill. We appreciate the opportunity to share with you our priorities
for funding and respectfully request the Committee consider these
views as the FY04 budget is shaped.
National Park Service Operations
A top priority for NPCA in the budget of the National Park Service
is to significantly increase funding for the operations of the Park
Service. NPCA requests an increase of $178 million over the current
FY03 spending levels, $102 million above the president's request,
for a total of $1,733,351,000 in fiscal year 2004 for the operation
of the National Park System.
NPCA greatly appreciates your leadership and commitment to our national
parks, demonstrated in the increase of $118.5 million that the Committee
provided for park operations and the House passed in the FY 2003 Interior
appropriations process. As you know, this funding increase was unfortunately
significantly reduced in the final 2003 omnibus appropriations act.
As you know, park operational funding continues to lag behind the
need. This situation is further aggravated by homeland security needs,
which have put increased pressure on park budgets and staffing. For
example, many park rangers have been reassigned to security detail
at icon and border parks, leaving their visitor interpretation and
resource protection duties unmet. In addition, National Park Service
Director Fran Mainella recently stated that added security expenditures
since the Code Orange alert are anticipated to cost the national parks
an additional $23 million annually.
While Congress has regularly increased the operating budget of the
parks, research in more than 50 parks has shown that funding fails
to keep pace with need. On average, the national parks are operating
with only two-thirds of the needed funding—an annual shortfall of
more than $600 million system-wide. An increase of $178 million in
the national parks' operating budget this year represents a reasonable
and manageable amount, and a critical step toward fulfilling the mission
of the Park Service and protecting our national heritage.
Just last month, Director Mainella testified to the Subcommittee
that, "support of park operations is integral to fulfilling the
mission of the National Park Service." As caretaker of some of
our nation's most valued natural, cultural, and historic resources,
the Park Service has a tremendous responsibility, managing 388 sites
Natural Resources Challenge
NPCA strongly supports the Natural Resources Challenge—a successful
multi-year program to preserve and protect the natural resources of
the national parks. We request an increase of $20 million above enacted
FY03 level, $11.5 million above the administration's request for this
National Park Service Historic Preservation
Frederick Douglass National Historical Site, Washington, D.C.—$2
million in FY04 for historic preservation of this important home.
Mr. Douglass' historic 1850s home in Anacostia is in need of immediate
repair. The National Park Service lacks critical funding and staff
to meet day-to-day needs and to protect Mr. Douglass' personal belongings
and the integrity of the property. For example, $550,000 is needed
to restore light-damaged photographs from the 19th century and to
restore Mr. Douglass' treasured library collection. The site also
needs funding to complete a Landscape Maintenance Plan and to hire
archaeological expertise to inventory and protect the park's cultural
and archaeological resources.
National Park Service Land Acquisition
Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas—$10 million in FY04, $6.6 million
above the administration's request, to complete acquisition of land
previously owned by timber companies within the 1994 boundary expansion.
Big Thicket National Preserve, often called the "biological crossroads
of North America," contains a unique mix of southeastern swamps,
eastern deciduous forest, central plains, pine savannas, and dry sandhills.
This acquisition is critical to protecting this unique area.
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, Virginia—$2
million in FY04 to acquire land from willing sellers in this model
partnership park dedicated in January, 2003. Private landowners have
expressed an interest in the National Park Service acquiring land
in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove. $2 million is a reasonable amount
to provide the Park Service a foundation for moving forward with serious
Everglades Restoration, Florida—$20 million in FY04 to provide assistance
to the State of Florida in purchasing lands needed to restore the
Everglades. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) requires
that more than 200,000 acres of land be purchased for water storage,
flow and treatment. With the rising cost of real estate and increasing
pressure to develop land in South Florida, it is critical that land
acquisition remain on track.
Fort Clatsop National Memorial, Oregon—$8 million in FY04 to purchase
from willing sellers a portion of the 1,500-acre expansion of the
memorial. President Bush signed the Fort Clatsop National Memorial
Expansion Act into law on August 21, 2002, authorizing the expansion.
Acquiring this land is important step in preparation for the Lewis
and Clark Bicentennial event to culminate at Fort Clatsop in November
2005. The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners and Governor of Oregon
support this acquisition.
Mojave National Preserve, California—$2 million in FY04 to complete
purchase of approximately 4,000—6,000 acres of the nearly 150,000
acres of privately held lands in the Preserve. We appreciate the $1
million provided by the Committee in FY03. $2 million in additional
funds are needed in FY04 to continue the purchase of sensitive lands
within the boundary of the Mojave Preserve.
Tumacácori National Historical Park, Arizona—$3 million in
FY04 to acquire 310 acres. The Tumacacori National Historical Park
Boundary Revision Act of 2001, signed into law by President Bush on
August 21, 2002, expanded the boundaries of the park to protect portions
of the original mission, historic orchards, and ancient irrigation
systems that are extremely vulnerable to subdivision development.
Obed Wild and Scenic River, Tennessee—$1.5 million in FY04 to acquire
approximately 1,000 acres of inholdings within the Obed Wild and Scenic
River corridor in Tennessee. We appreciate the Committee including
this request in the FY 2003 House bill, which was not, as you know,
included in the final conference. The Obed is one of the few free-flowing
streams of its type remaining in the entire six-state Cumberlands
region, and is the only National Wild and Scenic River in Tennessee.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona—$5 million in FY04 as a down
payment to complete the purchase of private lands next to the park
from willing sellers. The Arizona delegation is expected to introduce
legislation this year to expand the boundaries of Petrified National
Forest. A significant portion of lands within the proposed expansion
area currently are in private or state ownership. Acquiring this land
of nationally significant paleontological, archaeological, and scenic
resources is important to their long-term protection.
Valley Forge National Historical Park, Pennsylvania—$10 million in
FY04, $5 million above the president's request. Of this amount, $6
million for acquisition of the Toll Brothers tract, and $4 million
for additional acquisition, potentially approximately 100 acres owned
by St. Gabriel's School for Boys. Valley Forge preserves the history
of the American Revolution through 190 historic structures and more
than 600 archaeological sites, various wetlands, grasslands, woodlands,
and wildlife, including more than 200 species of birds and several
state-listed rare plants.
National Park Service Construction
Denali National Park, Alaska—$750,000 in FY04 to complete environmental
reviews and compliance with all design and permitting requirements
for the South Denali Nature Center. This funding was provided in the
Senate FY03 bill, but unfortunately, was not included in Conference.
This funding will help to alleviate visitor pressure on the existing
park infrastructure and to provide a new opportunity for visitors
on the south side of Denali National Park. The State of Alaska and
the Park Service are working cooperatively on a South Denali Nature
Center to be sited in Denali State Park, near the border of the national
park. The Nature Center will focus visitor attention to the alpine
environment through interpretive programs and a trail system.
National Park Service—Other
Everglades Modified Waters Deliveries Project—$15 million in FY04
for the Modified Waters Deliveries Project, an important Everglades
restoration project launched prior to CERP. This project would return
critical sheetflows of water to Everglades National Park. $30 million
over the next two years is needed to complete this project, so we
recommend $15 million this year.
Everglades Restoration Plan funding—$10 million in FY04 for the Department
of Interior's Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) funding.
This important funding will enable the Park Service and other Interior
agencies to carry out critical Everglades restoration projects.
Everglades Science funding—$6 million in FY04 for the Critical Ecosystem
Studies Initiative (CESI), the Department of Interior's research program
designed to help guide Everglades restoration planning and project
designs. A December 2002 report of the National Research Council of
the National Academies of Science found that $4 million is insufficient
to allow CESI to meet pressing science needs of the restoration program.
National Park Service Soundscape Program Office—$6 million in FY04
to hire contractors for research and development of air tour management
plans in national parks. The National Park Air Tour Management Act
of 2000 directed the Park Service to cooperate with the FAA on the
development of air tour management plans in parks. While originally
the Park Service and FAA anticipated that air tour operators would
wish to fly over 55 parks, they have received applications for flights
over more than 102 park units and require $6 million in FY04 to meet
its mandate on air tour management plan development.
Tribal Historic Preservation Officers—$11 million in FY04 through
the Historic Preservation Fund to stabilize funding for all Tribal
Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) and to accommodate new THPOs
at a base level funding of $275,000 per Tribe. Increased THPO funding
will enable Tribes to achieve more timely compliance with federal,
states, and tribal historic preservation laws. The THPO program represents
a successful partnership; tribes match federal THPO dollars at least
3 to 1. Examples of partnerships include the Navajo National Historic
Preservation Department working with the Park Service at Chaco Culture
National Historic Site and at Canyon de Chelly National Park.