WASHINGTON – President Trump has proposed a $2.8 billion Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the National Park Service (NPS) prioritizing core mission capacity, increasing recreational and public access and infrastructure improvement.
“We are extremely appreciative of today’s proposal to once again include the creation of the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund, and we remain optimistic that Congress will finally address the tremendous backlog caused by insufficient funds to appropriately maintain our national parks, our Indian schools and Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management facilities,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “The Trump administration is committed to addressing our crumbling park infrastructure, and it’s time for Congress to act.”
The Public Lands Infrastructure Fund would help address billions of dollars’ worth of backlogged maintenance, including structures, trails, roads, utility systems across the Departments of Interior and Agriculture. The proposal would allocate $6.5 billion over five years, supported by the deposit of 50 percent of all Federal energy development revenue that would otherwise be credited or deposited as miscellaneous receipts to the Treasury over the 2020–2024 period.
“President Trump’s budget supports our ongoing efforts to rebuild, restore, and reinvigorate park facilities and infrastructure for this and future generations,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “The President’s request provides funding to modernize our aging facilities, increase accessibility to our public lands for all visitors, and improve our resilience and response to fires and natural disasters.”
The President’s budget continues to emphasize infrastructure and asset management. The NPS asset portfolio includes more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 21,000 miles of trails and 25,000 buildings that serve more than 300 million annual national park visitors. To manage NPS assets, the budget proposes $844.2 million for facility operations and maintenance. Aging facilities and high visitation have created a significant need for infrastructure and facility recapitalization and modernization. To address those needs, the facility operations and maintenance funding includes $188.2 million for cyclic maintenance projects and $121.1 million for repair and rehabilitation projects.
In addition to operations funding, the President’s budget provides $192.6 million for the construction appropriation, which funds construction projects, equipment replacement, project planning and management, and special projects. This includes $127.8 million for line-item construction projects.
These discretionary fund sources are critical to helping address the significant maintenance requirements across the NPS. Additionally, the recreation fee program allows the NPS to collect recreation fees at selected parks to improve visitor services and enhance the visitor experience. In 2019, NPS leveraged $175 million in recreation fees to address priority maintenance projects to improve the visitor experience. The NPS estimates that in FY 2020 and FY 2021, $200 and $205 million in fee revenues respectively will be utilized for similar facility and infrastructure projects.
The FY 2021 NPS budget requests $2.5 billion for park operations. The budget proposes $44.2 million to support and enhance diverse public access and recreational opportunities, including $1 million for the Veterans Trades Apprentice Corps, $7.5 million for trail rehabilitation and $1.2 million for family camping experiences and education. The budget also proposes $7 million for increases in operational funding for new and critical responsibilities, including $223,000 for the life home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and $300 thousand for Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site.
To mitigate wildfire risk to visitors, staff and park infrastructure, the budget proposes an increase of $3 million ($4 million in total) for infrastructure resiliency projects at the most urgent sites.
The President’s budget also proposes $11 million to support large-scale wildlife conservation efforts focused on leveraging collaboration between parks and neighboring communities, tribes and states with the goal of implementing all state and local conservation Action Plans.
The budget proposes continued support of key grant programs. This includes the use of mandatory funding from oil and gas leases to support conservation grants to states. The discretionary budget proposal includes $10 million for the American Battlefield Protection Program’s Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants, which provide funding to states and local entities to acquire or permanently protect historical battlefield lands and $8 million in grant funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, continuing the NPS support of the White House Initiative on HBCUs.