Congress Passes NPS Centennial Bill

Congress Passes NPS Centennial Bill
To read the Centennial Act one-pager, click here
To read the full text of the bill, click here

The United States Senate passed The National Park Service Centennial Act on December 10 without changes from a House of Representatives version passed December 6. The bill now heads to the President's desk to become a law.

The legislation enjoyed bipartisan support, creating important new tools to support America's national parks for years to come. Among the key provisions of the legislation are:

  • the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund, first proposed when Dirk Kempthorne was Secretary in 2007;
  • a National Park Foundation-managed Endowment to supplement Congressional appropriations – much as endowments are used by universities. There is evidence that this endowment could be attractive to bequests and major contributors;
  • improved capabilities to use youth conservation corps and volunteers to aid national park operations;
  • an amendment to the 1998 Concessions Act to allow Interior’s Secretary to “amend the applicable terms of an existing concessions contract to provide new and additional services”
  • a new VISITOR EXPERIENCE IMPROVEMENTS AUTHORITY, which could expand visitor services at units now under-visited.
  • In the bill, Congress eliminated proposed new taxes on in-park concessioner-provided lodging (including campground stays) and other goods and services that would not have been used to support park operations in units generating the funds, undercutting provisions of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).

    The bill aims to help the National Park Service address the challenges of its next century of stewardship, including engaging more diverse populations with their public lands and waters, embracing new technologies and dealing with a $12 billion maintenance backlog.