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A budget request for fiscal year 2016 released today by the White House includes $3 billion in support of the National Park Service (NPS) as it prepares for its approaching centennial. The budget will help support essential programs and operational needs throughout the 2016 centennial year and provide a solid foundation to advance the NPS mission as the agency enters its next century. During the coming year and beyond, the NPS will strive to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.
"This is an investment in 'America's Best idea' that pays dividends in gateway communities across the nation," said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis "For every dollar appropriated to the National Park Service in the President's 2016 Centennial budget, $10 is returned to the American economy in the form of visitor spending, travel and tourism, and construction jobs."
During 2013, Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway generated over $502 million in economic benefit to local communities and that spending supported nearly 7,000 local jobs, according to a peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park visitors conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists. In 2014, Grand Teton National Park experienced record visitation with over 4.29 million people entering the park. The interest of national and international visitors in the iconic national parks of northwestern Wyoming is undeniable and tangible in terms of visitation numbers and economic benefit.
"The President's request contains all the elements necessary for us to sustain these treasures—our national park areas—and help us to repair an ageing infrastructure, respond to climate change, host school field trips, and train park rangers who will greet nearly 300 million visitors with the highest standard of public service," added NPS Director Jarvis.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the NPS, and the Centennial Initiative includes discretionary increases of $326.3 million, including $8 million, to restore seasonal capacity by putting hundreds more park rangers in the field in support of visitor education, understanding and enjoyment, facility operations and maintenance, and law enforcement activities, including search and rescue missions and firefighting response. It also proposes $11.5 million to transport more than one million students from urban Title 1 elementary schools to nearby national parks;$13.5 million to support new parks and critical responsibilities;$2 million to provide volunteer coordinators;and $8.5 million to support youth coordinators.
Of the $326.3 million increase requested for the Centennial Initiative, $242.8 million is requested across the operations and construction accounts to restore and maintain all 6,735 highest priority non-transportation assets in good condition over 10 years, complemented by a mandatory proposal to provide $300 million annually over three years for deferred maintenance projects.
Finally, the Centennial Initiative includes a discretionary increase of $40 million to provide the federal match for NPS Centennial Challenge projects and programs at national parks to catalyze creative initiatives to improve visitor services, support outreach to new audiences, and leverage partnerships to reinvigorate national park areas while forging connections with local communities. This builds on the 2015 appropriation of $10 million for matching projects. This is also complemented by a mandatory proposal to provide $100 million annually over three years for the Centennial Challenge to complete signature projects and programs with partners.
"This centennial budget is really the cornerstone for the next 100 years of stewardship of America's natural, cultural and historic resources, and it highlights the importance of investing in these treasured resources for the benefit of future generations," said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela. "This budget also helps leverage additional private philanthropy for national parks. At Grand Teton we are currently engaged in a significant public-private partnership project with our Grand Teton National Park Foundation to renew, rehabilitate and address deferred maintenance at Jenny Lake, the most popular destination in the park. This project, combined with many others in collaboration with the Foundation and our longtime partner the Grand Teton Association, help us increase our capacity to protect wildlife and other natural resources, provide outreach to youth and diverse visitors, and support the preservation of precious cultural resources such as the park's Vernon collection of American Indian art," added Superintendent Vela.
As the keeper of 405 national parks, 23 national scenic and national historic trails, and 60 wild and scenic rivers, the NPS is charged with preserving these lands and historic features for their cultural and historic significance, scenic and environmental worth, and educational and recreational opportunities. Additionally, NPS grant and technical assistance programs help to revitalize communities and expand local recreation opportunities across America.
Last updated: February 24, 2015