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History of the NPS Transportation Program

The Federal-Aid Road Act, enacted by Congress in 1916, provided the first federal funds for roads serving federal lands (national forests). In that same year, Congress established the National Park Service (NPS or Park Service). The NPS Organic Act, codified in Title 16, United States Code (USC) Chapter I, established the National Park Service’s mission, which remains in place to this day:

[T]o conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

1920's Central Vermont engine
Warren Covered Bridge
1913 Ford Model T
1920s Central Vermont engine pulling passenger cars on an excursion through Northfield in 1972
Photograph from Picture Northfield, courtesy of Alan H. Weiss
Warren Covered Bridge | Photograph courtesy of the Mad River Valley Planning District
1913 Ford Model T touring automobile
Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, Hult.407 2028.407

Federal funding for roads, trails, and bridges in National Park System units began about 1924. The first interagency agreement between the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads (predecessor of today’s Federal Highway Administration) to provide road design and construction assistance was executed in January 1925. This relationship continues today, making it one of the longest, if not the longest, formal partnership between any two federal agencies.

Today, the partnership between these two agencies is known as the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP)—until 2012 it was called the Park Roads and Parkways Program (PRPP). The FLTP is a component of the Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP), which was established by federal legislation in 1982, and was first funded in 1983.

The Federal Lands Highway Office (FLH) provides financial management, engineering, and construction management support for the FLTP and similar programs with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and (most recently) the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The current interagency agreement addressing roles and responsibilities between the FHWA and the NPS was signed on May 19, 1983.







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