National Park Service General Partnership Authorities

The following list summarizes and paraphrases authorities and statutory tools that may be useful to the National Park Service (NPS) in forming partnership arrangements with the public and private sector. Major categories of authorities discussed below include:

General Partnership Authority
Authorities That Specifically Address Historic Resources
Research Training, and Education Partnerships
Authority To Accept Donations of Money, Goods, and Services

When using this list, the reader should keep in mind that more than one authority may be used in tandem to support a proposed action.

Should a particular authority appear helpful the reader should review the actual text of the statute to ensure that there are no additional limitations or qualifications that may affect NPS's ability to utilize the authority. The reader should also remember that NPS or departmental implementing regulations, Director's Orders, Reference Manuals and Handbooks, prevailing law and policy, authorizing legislation for National Park System units, General Management Plans, and appropriations may affect NPS's ability to utilize a particular authority in a given factual situation. The Solicitor's Office can help NPS determine the most appropriate way to use these authorities in accomplishing its partnership goals. Consultation with the Solicitor's Office early in initial partnership planning and discussion stages will help facilitate effective, and legally supportable, achievement of those goals.

A. General Partnership Authority

1. General Authority to Take Actions That Promote and Regulate Units of the National Park System (16 U. S. C. 1): The NPS Organic Act directs the Secretary to promote and regulate National Park System lands by such means and measures as to conform to the fundamental purpose of such lands, namely, conservation of the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of these resources in a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

2. Agreements for the Transfer of Appropriated Funds to Carry Out NPS Programs (16 U. S. C. 1g): The National Park Service may in fiscal year 1997 and thereafter enter into cooperative agreements that involve the transfer of National Park Service appropriated funds to State, local and tribal governments, other public entities, educational institutions, and private nonprofit organizations for the public purpose of carrying out National Park Service programs.

3. Cost Share Arrangements with Partners (16 U. S. C. 1f): The Secretary may enter into an agreement with a cooperator for the purpose of sharing costs or services in carrying out authorized functions and responsibilities with respect to the National Park System, any affiliated area, or any designated National Scenic or Historic Trail. Cooperators are any State or local government, public or private agency, organization, institution, corporation, individual or other entity.

4. Agreements to Allow Exhibits and Interpretive Demonstrations in Parks (16 U. S. C. 1a- 2 ( g)): The Secretary is authorized to enter into contracts, including cooperative arrangements, to conduct living exhibits and interpretive demonstration in areas of the National Park System. The Secretary is also authorized to sell at fair market value, without regard to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, products and services produced in the conduct of living exhibits and interpretive demonstration and to credit any proceeds therefrom to the appropriation bearing the cost of such exhibits and demonstrations.

5. Promotion of Tourism in the National Park System (16 U. S. C. 18a): The Secretary is authorized to cooperate with private travel agencies to promote tourism within the National Park System

6. Agreements to Operate, Develop, and Maintain Portions of National Trails ( 16 U. S. C. 1246( h)( 1)): The National Trail System Act authorizes the Secretary to enter into agreements, including agreements providing limited financial assistance, to encourage acquisition, protection, operation, development, and maintenance, of national recreation, national scenic, or national historic trails located both within and outside the boundaries of federally administered areas. Such agreements may be with States or their political subdivisions, landowners, private organizations, or individuals.

7. Agreements for Cooperative Management Where Park System Lands are Near State or Local Parks ( 16 U. S. C. 1a- 2( l)): Where a unit of the National Park System is located adjacent to or near a State or local park area, and cooperative management between the National Park Service and a State or local government agency of a portion of either park will allow for more effective and efficient management of the parks, the Secretary may enter into an agreement with a State or local government agency to provide for the cooperative management of Federal and State or local park areas (but may not transfer "administration responsibilities" for any unit of the National Park System under this authority). Under such an agreement, the Secretary may acquire from and provide to a State or local government agency goods and services to be used in the cooperative management of land. Also, assignment of Federal, State or local employees for the cooperative management activity may be for any period determined by the Secretary or the State or local officials to be mutually beneficial

8. Leases of Buildings and Associated Property ( 16 U. S. C. 1a- 2( k)): The Secretary may enter into a lease with any person or governmental entity for the use of buildings and associated property administered by the Secretary as part of the National Park System, provided that (1) the lease does not authorize the lessee to engage in activities that are subject to authorization under a concessions contract, commercial use authorization, or similar instrument; and (2) use of the building and associated property shall not be (a) inconsistent with the law establishing the Park System unit in which the building or associated property is located, (b) shall not result in deprecation of the purposes and values of the unit, and (c) shall be compatible with National Park Service programs. For leases of historic structures see the description of 16 U. S. C. 470h- 3 below.

9. Agreements Regarding Subsistence Management and Use of Public Lands in Alaska ( 16 U. S. C. 3119): The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act authorizes the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements and otherwise cooperate with other federal agencies, the State, native corporations, and other appropriate persons and organizations to effectuate the purpose and policies of subsistence management and use of public lands in Alaska.

10. Agreements for the Acquisition, Protection, and Management of River Resources Both Within and Outside Federally Administered Areas ( 16 U. S. C. 1282( b)( 1)): See the list of Department- level authorities, above, at the beginning of Part D.

B. Authorities That Specifically Address Historic Resources

1. Authority to Cooperate with Others on the Administration of Historic Sites (16 U. S. C. 464): The Secretary is authorized to cooperate with Federal, State, and municipal governments, any educational or scientific institution, any patriotic association, or any individual in administering historic sites.

2. Agreements to Protect, Preserve, Maintain, or Operate Historic or Archeological Buildings, Sites, Objects, or Property ( 16 U. S. C. 462( e)): The Historic Sites Act authorizes NPS to contract and make cooperative agreements with States, municipal subdivisions, corporations, associations, or individuals, with proper bond where deemed advisable, to protect, preserve, maintain, or operate any historic or archeological building, site, object, or property used in connection with public use. But no contract or cooperative agreement can be made that obligates the general fund of the Treasury unless Congress has appropriated money for that purpose.

3. Agreements with State Historic Preservation Officers ( 16 U. S. C. 470a( b)( 6( A)): The National Historic Preservation Act authorizes the Secretary to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with a State Historic Preservation Officer for any State authorizing such Officer to assist the Secretary in carrying out: identification, preservation, determinations of National Register eligibility, preparation of National Register nominations, historical and archeological database maintenance, or evaluation of eligibility for Federal preservation incentives. Listed in the statute are several caveats and qualifications on this authority.

4. Agreements for the Protection of American Battlefields (16 U. S. C. 469K): The Secretary, using the established national historic preservation program to the extent practicable, is instructed encourage, support, assist, recognize, and working partnership with citizens, Federal, and triable governments, other public entities, educational institutions, and private non- profit organizations, in identifying, researching, evaluating, interpreting, and protecting historic battlefields and associated sites on a National, State, and local level.

5. Historic Preservation Research and Training Grants ( 16 U. S. C. 470x- 4): The Secretary, in consultation with the National Preservation Technology and Training Board, shall provide preservation research and training grants to eligible applicants with a demonstrated institutional capability and commitment to the purposes of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, in order to ensure an effective and efficient system of research, information distribution and skills training in all the related historic preservation fields. Entities eligible for these grants are Federal and non- Federal laboratories, accredited museums, universities, nonprofit organizations, offices, units and cooperative park study units, state historic preservation offices, tribal preservation offices, and Native Hawaiian organizations.

6. Authority to Enter Into Cooperative Agreements Promoting the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom ( 16 U. S. C. 469l- 1( c)): To ensure effective coordination between Federal and non- federal elements of the underground railroad network the Secretary may enter into cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding with, and provide technical assistance to (1) the heads of other Federal agencies, States, localities, regional governmental bodies, and private entities; and (2) in cooperation with the Secretary of State, the governments of Canada, Mexico, and any appropriate country in the Caribbean.

7. Adaptive Use of Historic Property - Leases and Exchanges ( 16 U. S. C. 470h- 3): Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any Federal agency, after consultation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, is required, to the extent practicable, to establish and implement alternatives for historic properties, including adaptive uses, that are not needed for current or projected agency purposes. Agencies may lease an historic property owned by the agency to any person or organization, or exchange any property owned by the agency with comparable historic property, if the agency head determines that the lease or exchange will adequately insure the preservation of the historic property.

C. Research, Training, and Eduction Partnerships

1. Agreements Concerning Cooperative Research and Training on NPS Resources ( 16 U. S. C. 1a- 2( j)): The Secretary may enter into agreements with public or private educational institutions, States and their political subdivisions, for the purpose of developing adequate, coordinated, cooperative research and training programs concerning the resources of the National Park System, and pursuant to such agreements, to accept from and make available to the cooperator such technical and support staff, financial assistance for mutually agreed upon research projects, supplies and equipment, facilities, and administrative services relating to cooperative research units as the Secretary deems appropriate.

2. Agreements For Educational Lectures and Work Respecting National Park System Resources ( 16 U. S. C. 17j-2( e)): Appropriations may be expended on educational lectures in or in the vicinity of, and with respect to, National Park System resources and the services of field employees may be utilized in cooperation with non- profit scientific and historical organization engaged in educational work on National Park System lands.

3. Agreements with Federal, State, and Local Entities to Study Parks, Parkways, and Recreation (16 U. S. C. 17k): The Secretary is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with other federal agencies as well as with State and local governments in order to study parks, parkways, and recreational areas, and to plan for providing adequate park and recreation areas for the people of the United States.

4. Agreements to Engage in and Fund Outdoor Recreation Research and Educational Programs ( 16 U. S. C. 460-l( f)( 1)): The Secretary is authorized to sponsor, engage in, and assist in research relating to outdoor recreation, directly or by contract or cooperative agreements, to undertake studies and assemble information concerning outdoor recreation, directly or by contract or cooperative agreement, and to cooperate with educational institutions and others in order to assist in establishing education programs to encourage public use and benefits from outdoor recreation.

5. Agreements with Educational Institutions to Study National Park System Resources and Non- Park Service Resources ( 16 U. S. C. 5933): The Secretary is authorized and directed to enter into cooperative agreements with colleges and universities in partnership with other Federal and State agencies, to establish cooperative study units to conduct multi- disciplinary research and develop integrated information products on the resources of the National Park System or the larger region of which parks are a part.

D. Authority to Accept Donations of Money, Goods, and Services

1. General Authority for NPS to Accept Donations ( 16 U. S. C. 6): The Secretary is authorized to accept patented lands, rights- of- way over patented lands or others lands, buildings, or other property within the various national parks and national monuments, and moneys which may be donated for the purposes of the national park and monument system.

2. Donations for Museum Purposes ( 16 U. S. C. 18f( a)): The Secretary is authorized to accept donations of money or other personal property and to hold, use, expend and administer them for museum purposes.

3. Acceptance of Volunteer Services ( 16 U. S. C. 18g): The Secretary is authorized to recruit, train, and accept the services of individuals without compensation as volunteers for or in the aid of interpretive functions, or other visitor services or activities in and related to areas of the National Park System. Such volunteers may not be used for hazardous duty or law enforcement work or in policymaking processes, or to displace any employee. A special exception allows the acceptance of the services of individuals that the Secretary determines "are skilled in performing hazardous activities."

4. Donations to the National Park Foundation for the Benefit of NPS ( 16 U. S. C. 19e- o): Congress established the National Park Foundation in order to encourage private gifts of real and personal property or any income therefrom or other interest therein for the benefit of, or in connection with, the National Park Service, its activities, or its services, and to further the conservation of natural, scenic, historic, scientific, educational, inspirational or recreational resources for future generations. The Foundation may accept, receive, solicit, hold, administer and use any gifts, devises or bequests or any income therefrom or other interest therein for the benefit of the National Park Service, its activities or its services. Congress required the Foundation to design and implement a comprehensive program to assist and promote philanthropic programs of support at the individual national park unit level.

5. Donations and Bequests of Money, Personal Property and Less than Fee Interests in Historic Property ( 16 U. S. C. 470w- 2): Secretary is authorized to accept donations and bequests of money and personal property for the purposes of historic preservation and to accepts gifts or donations of less than fee interests in any historic property where the acceptance of such interests will facilitate the conservation or preservation of such properties.

6. National Capital Region Arts and Cultural Affairs Grants Program (16 U. S. C. 1e): In order to support and enhance artistic and cultural activities in the National Capital region, grants of up to $500,000 per year may be made to "organizations of demonstrated national significance" meeting at least two of the following criteria: an annual operating budget in excess of $1 million; an annual audience or visitation of at least 200,000 people; a paid staff of at least one hundred persons; or an eligibility under the Historic Sites Act of 1935. Public or private colleges and universities are not eligible under this program.

7. Tax Deductions for Conservation Easements (26 U. S. C. 170): The U. S. Tax Code allows taxpayers to take a deduction for a "qualified property interest" contributed to a charitable organization (including the NPS), exclusively for conservation purposes protected in perpetuity. [26 U. S. C. 170 is not a DOI or NPS authority per se; rather it authorizes a tax deduction by the donor provided that DOI or a bureau agrees to accept a property donation.]