Three Billion Dollar National Park Service Presidential Budget Proposal Could Benefit Cape Cod National Seashore
Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, (508) 349-3785 x203
The President’s $2.4 billion National Park Service budget for Fiscal Year 2008 calls for the largest increase in park operations funding ever proposed and leveraged public-private investments that could generate as much as $3 billion to help the National Park Service prepare for its 100th birthday in 2016. The proposed budget includes 3,000 new seasonal employees, continues increases for park maintenance, and targets specific cultural and natural resource improvements. This budget proposal could impact the base budget for Cape Cod National Seashore.
“All of this is possible because the President recommends a $230 million increase in park operations funding over his Fiscal Year 2007 budget request,” said Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service. “That is the largest increase ever for park operations and programs that directly benefit national parks.” The FY2008 budget proposal is the first financial infusion for the President’s Initiative to ready America’s parks for the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service.
The “National Parks Centennial Initiative” is a potential $3 billion investment in the coming 10 years. “This is money above and beyond our regular budget,” Bomar said. “It includes $100 million of discretionary funds for parks each year and up to $200 million a year within the Centennial Initiative, which would provide $100.0 million a year to match donations for signature projects and programs.”
Bomar said the Centennial Initiative emphasizes three key goals:
The FY2008 budget includes $57.5 million to fully fund employee pay and benefits. “This is so important,” Bomar said. “Even as the National Park Service has received budget increases, we have frequently absorbed portions of employee pay raises. Over time, that eats away at park operations.”
Other key elements of the proposed FY2008 budget include:
A solid foundation for park base funding: With $140 million in increases at the park base level, this budget supports core mission responsibilities like interpretation and education programs, staff at visitor centers, park safety, and maintaining resources and facilities in good condition.
Flexible park base operations funding: A request of $20.0 million for cultural and natural resource programs at 20 parks to meet specific improvement goals, such as upgrading historic structures to ‘good condition,’ to meet ‘museum standards’ for historic and cultural artifacts, eradicating exotic species and restoring disturbed lands. As an example, Bomar identified a project to restore a disturbed landscape at Denali National Park in Alaska.
Asset Management Program: The NPS now has a complete baseline on facility conditions and will establish specific performance targets for improving assets. Total construction and facility maintenance funding is $663.2 million in 2008, including a $68.1 million increase in facility maintenance. Parks can also improve assets through the Centennial Challenge, which could raise up to $200 million a year in donations and matching funds. “The 2008 budget includes a $35.0 million increase in cyclic maintenance, bringing the total for this critical program to $106.5 million” Bomar said. This represents a 224 percent increase from the program level of $35.5 million in 2001. Cyclic maintenance allows assets to be maintained on a predictive cycle, rather than letting assets fall into disrepair, which could lead to costly rehabilitation and an increase in the deferred maintenance backlog.
Land acquisition: The 2008 budget includes $22.5 million for federal land acquisition, including completing land acquisition for the Flight 93 National Memorial and funds for Civil War battlefield grants.
Historic Preservation: The 2008 budget includes $63.7 million for historic preservation. The historic preservation budget includes $10.0 million for the Save America’s Treasures program, $10.0 million for Preserve America, and $43.7 million for historic preservation grants-in-aid to states, territories and Indian tribes. It would also establish a National Inventory of Historic Properties grant program. Matching grants of $4.0 million would be available to states, tribes, local governments and federal land management agencies to make inventories more accessible and useful.
The National Recreation and Preservation program: The 2008 budget proposal is $48.9 million. That is $15.6 million more than the 2007 budget request. The President’s 2008 budget includes $8.7 million for Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance, an increase of $650,000 from 2007. The increase is to provide technical assistance to connect trails to parks through new trail partnership projects.
$22.7 million for cultural programs, an increase of $2.5 million from 2007. The increase includes an additional $1.0 million to establish data format and protocols for the new National Inventory of Historic Properties grant program. The increase also includes an additional $1.5 million for American Battlefield grants. The requested funding would allow for 50 grants through annual competition authorized by the American Battlefield Protection Act of 1996, which promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with war on American soil. -more-
$10.0 million for heritage areas, an increase of $2.6 million from 2007. The Heritage Partnership Program provides seed money for congressionally designated, but locally managed, national heritage areas.
The increased funding for Cape Cod National Seashore could pay for additional seasonal staff, cover the cost of living increases for employees, fund maintenance projects, and assist in historic structure improvements particularly the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station in Provincetown. Prior park budgets have not kept pace with staff costs and deferred maintenance. Part of the “flexible park funding” could facilitate improvements to the condition of the life saving station, including interior and exterior rehabilitation. The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station is the last intact station on Cape Cod. It currently serves as a life-saving museum. A proposal for $489, 000 was submitted for this restoration project. Once restored the park has a philanthropic commitment from the Friends of Cape Cod National Seashore to undertake a fundraising campaign to furnish the historic building, which would enhance visitor satisfaction and understanding of this fascinating maritime history story.
Cape Cod Superintendent George Price expressed enthusiasm for the President’s National Initiative. Price said, “This is a very exciting proposal which could benefit the entire national park system. The Centennial of the National Park System will be in 2016 and now is the time to work toward that significant anniversary. The FY 2008 proposed budget could bring significant improvements to the overall health of the Cape Cod National Seashore budget and ensure that we can better serve the public and continue to protect our natural and cultural resources for future generations.”
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