Murkowski: National Park Centennial Opportunity to Ensure Sustainability for Next 100 Years
Chairman Calls for Addressing Maintenance, Encourages Alternative Funding
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today urged National Park Service (NPS) officials to look for innovative ways to fund the nation’s park systems on the 100th anniversary of the agency and to take steps to meet the evolving needs of the next generation of visitors.
Click picture to view video of Murkowski’s opening statement.
“The centennial offers us a chance to ensure the national park system’s sustainability for the next 100 years. And it will take a serious effort to achieve that goal,” Murkowski said. “The National Park Service estimates its maintenance backlog at approximately $11.5 billion right now – and it’s anticipated that the backlog will continue to grow.”
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called the maintenance backlog a “travesty” that must be addressed.
“To me, there is little point in conserving lands – or allowing the federal government to acquire even more land – if we are not going to take proper care of them,” she said.
Murkowski said the administration’s proposal, The National Park Service Centennial Act (S. 2257), was a good start to an overdue conversation on ensuring the long-term sustainability of the park system. But she dismissed the administration’s request for $1.5 billion in mandatory spending without identifying where the new money is supposed to come from.
Click picture to view video of Murkowski talking about alternative funding streams for NPS.
“I do not think this is an instance where we can simply throw money at the problem and consider it solved. I disagree that simply providing more funding – as the administration proposes – is the best approach.” Murkowski said. “Our nation is facing a very serious fiscal crisis; we simply cannot spend however much we want, on whatever we want, whenever we perceive a need. Instead, we should look at new and alternative ways to fund our parks, strive to be more efficient with appropriated dollars, and reassess our funding priorities.”
Murkowski highlighted proposals to engage the private sector as an additional source of support for the nation’s 409 park units and efforts to manage those parks more efficiently.
Murkowski has advanced measures to provide additional sources of funding for the national parks, including $50 million in mandatory funds from federal helium sales to pay for deferred maintenance; the establishment of a commemorative coin and donor recognition program to correspond with the 100th anniversary of the NPS. As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski continues to seek alternative ways to maintain our national treasures, including proposing the creation of a national park maintenance fund in the committee-approved broad, bipartisan energy bill and the Sportsmen's Act.