WASHINGTON – Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner to the National Park Service (NPS), issued the following statement upon the United States House of Representative’s passage of H.R. 4680, the National Park Service Centennial Act:
“The National Park Foundation (NPF) commends the House of Representatives for its strong bipartisan vote in favor of the National Park Service Centennial Act. We are proud that this important legislation passed with broad support from both parties, and are confident that its enactment into law will prepare our national parks as they embark on a second century of success.
We thank House leaders for bringing this historic legislation to the floor, and applaud the outstanding and tireless leadership of House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, as their shared commitment to a strong future for our national parks paved the way for today’s important vote.
NPF strongly supports the National Park Service Centennial Act as it provides new tools to help create a more holistic funding model and secure additional philanthropic support for our national parks. We commend the legislation’s establishment and seeding of a Second Century Endowment. Under NPF’s management, the Second Century Endowment will provide stable, long-term funding for our national parks while enhancing NPF’s ability to attract significantly greater philanthropic support for these treasured places.
NPF also applauds the legislation’s establishment of the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund, which will build on the Centennial Challenge program’s proven success at leveraging philanthropic support for projects and programs across the National Park System. In the past two years, Congress has appropriated a total of $25 million for the Centennial Challenge program, while NPS and partners such as NPF and local Friends Groups raised more than $45 million. Dedicating funding for this initiative is key to ensuring its future success.
NPF strongly supports the legislation’s authorization of $5 million in annual appropriations for our organization through Fiscal Year 2023, as well as the requirement that appropriations are used to match philanthropic support. While federal appropriations must always remain the primary source of funding for our national parks, H.R. 4680 importantly builds a more holistic funding model that includes robust philanthropic support as a complement to public funds.
Together, these three components will not only dedicate more resources to our parks, but will also foster broader philanthropic support for our nation’s stunning landscapes, historic battlefields, and unique cultural sites.
In addition to these important provisions, NPF welcomes the legislation’s structural adjustments to our Board of Directors to make the Secretary of the Interior and NPS Director ex officio, non-voting members. We are also pleased by the legislation’s improvements to NPS’ authorities to manage concessioner contracts, as such changes will enhance national park visitor experiences and offer visitors additional options. NPF applauds the bill’s components that will encourage participation in the Public Land Corps and increase volunteerism in our national parks.
As we cap off the yearlong celebration of the 2016 National Park Service Centennial and look toward the next century of stewardship, it is essential that we seize this opportunity to better prepare our national parks to fulfill their promise of perpetuity. The National Park Service Centennial Act honors our nation’s shared commitment to these iconic places, and is an important step in securing their future. NPF applauds the House of Representatives for advancing this historic legislation with broad bipartisan support, and looks forward to its timely consideration in the United States Senate.”
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.