Tag Archives: National Parks

National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund

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The National Parks need your support, and your Representatives’ and Senators’ support of this bill before everything in the parks ends up broken, closed, offline, and dangerous due to lack of funding.

S. 751

To amend title 54, United States Code, to establish, fund, and provide for the use of amounts in a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 28, 2017

Mr. Warner (for himself, Mr. Portman, Mr. King, and Mr. Kaine) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


A BILL

To amend title 54, United States Code, to establish, fund, and provide for the use of amounts in a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017”.

SEC. 2. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE LEGACY RESTORATION FUND.

(a) In General.—Chapter 1049 of title 54, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

§ 104908. National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund

“(a) In General.—There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund, to be known as the ‘National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund’ (referred to in this section as the ‘Fund’).

“(b) Deposits.—At the beginning of each applicable fiscal year, there shall be deposited in the Fund from mineral revenues due and payable to the United States that are not otherwise credited, covered, or deposited under Federal law—

“(1) $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020;

“(2) $150,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023;

“(3) $250,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024, 2025, and 2026; and

“(4) $500,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2027 through 2047.

“(c) Availability Of Funds.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), amounts deposited in the Fund shall be available to the Service for expenditure without further appropriation.

“(2) UNOBLIGATED AMOUNTS.—Any amounts not obligated by the date that is 2 years after the date on which the amounts are first available shall be credited to miscellaneous receipts of the Treasury.

“(d) Use Of Funds.—Amounts in the Fund shall be used for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the Service, as determined by the Director, as follows:

“(1) 80 percent of amounts in the Fund shall be allocated for projects that are not eligible for the funding described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (2) for the repair and rehabilitation of assets, including—

“(A) historic structures, facilities, and other historic assets;

“(B) nonhistoric assets that relate directly to visitor—

“(i) access, including making facilities accessible to visitors with disabilities;

“(ii) health and safety; and

“(iii) recreation; and

“(C) visitor facilities, water and utility systems, and employee housing.

“(2) 20 percent of amounts in the Fund shall be allocated to road, bridge, tunnel, or other transportation-related projects that may be eligible for funding made available to the Service through—

“(A) the transportation program under section 203 of title 23; or

“(B) any similar Federal land highway program administered by the Secretary of Transportation.

“(e) Prohibited Use Of Funds.—No amounts in the Fund shall be used—

“(1) for land acquisition; or

“(2) to supplant discretionary funding made available for the annually recurring facility operations and maintenance needs of the Service.

“(f) Submission Of Annual Proposal.—As part of the annual budget submission of the Service to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate (referred to in this section as the ‘Committees’), the Service shall submit a prioritized list of deferred maintenance projects proposed to be funded by amounts in the Fund during the fiscal year for which the budget submission is made.

“(g) Congressional Review.—After review of the list submitted under subsection (f), the Committees may provide for the allocation of amounts derived from the Fund.

“(h) Project Approval.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), if, before the beginning of a fiscal year, the Committees do not alter the allocation of funds proposed by the Service for that fiscal year, the list submitted under subsection (f) for that fiscal year shall be considered approved.

“(2) CONTINUING RESOLUTION.—If, before the beginning of a fiscal year, there is enacted a continuing resolution or resolutions for a period of—

“(A) less than or equal to 120 days, the Service shall not commit funds to any proposed high-priority deferred maintenance project until the date of enactment of a law making appropriations for the Service that is not a continuing resolution; or

“(B) more than 120 days, the list submitted under subsection (f) for that fiscal year shall be considered approved, unless otherwise provided in the continuing resolution or resolutions.

“(i) Public Donations.—To encourage public-private partnerships that will reduce the overall deferred maintenance costs to the Service, the Secretary and the Director may accept public cash or in-kind donations by including on each list submitted to Congress under subsection (f) after the date of enactment of this section each project, regardless of the priority ranking of the project, that costs—

“(1) less than $2,000,000, with at least a 33-percent non-Federal cost-share component; or

“(2) equal to or more than $2,000,000, with at least a 25-percent non-Federal cost-share component.”.

(b) Clerical Amendment.—The table of sections for chapter 1049 of title 54, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:


“104908. National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund.”.

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Protecting Parks from Fracking

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“From the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park in Montana, visitors can throw a stone and hit any of 16 exploratory wells and associated holding tanks, pump jacks, and machinery used to force millions of gallons of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals into shale rock formations thousands of feet beneath the surface.”  – James D. Nations, Ph.D., Vice President for NPCA’s Center for Park Research

Center for Park Research

Center for Park Research

The existence of wells and the infrastructure of fracking within a stone’s throw of Glacier National Park is unacceptable. Some have said we are powerless to prevent it because those wells are within the sovereign Blackfeet Nation. To that, I ask, does sovereignty extend outside a nation’s borders?

Some years ago, the proposed Cabin Creek mine in British Columbia was stopped, in part, because it was likely to pollute rivers flowing from Canada into the U.S. The same is likely to be true of groundwater outside the immediate proximity of those wells on Blackfeet land.

James D. Nations writes in “Fracking and National Park Wildlife” that a third of the nation’s national parks are within twenty-five miles of shale basins. This means that a great number of wildlife habitats are potentially at risk. These risks come primarily in the areas of habitat fragmentation, water quality and quantity, and noise and air pollution.

There’s an old fashioned Libertarian principle that may finally be taken seriously as we realize more and more that the Earth is one community. The principle is that you cannot do anything on your land that harms your neighbor or your neighbor’s land.

The dangers of fracking and other forms of pollution are not restricted to the property where the industrial development occurs. Air and water carry the negative impacts many miles away. This is not acceptable.

While we may not be  able to quickly wean ourselves away from older coal fired power plants where no alternatives are quickly available, fracking is relatively new. The complete nature of its threats and risks are not yet known. We don’t need it any more than we need new coal fired power plants.

We need, I think, to look not only at the threats to Glacier and other national parks, but to the places where we live and work. If we take life seriously, we can no longer permit one company or one nation or one developer to do as he wishes on the land he owns or leases when his actions affect people, habitats and wildlife many miles away.

parksandfrackingYou May Also Like:

Malcolm

‘The Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park’ offers fun facts for teens and adults

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Can you squeeze both feet onto a 2″ x 6″ piece of rock? What if that rock is 3,000 feet above a cold mountain lake?

Mountain goats, the iconic symbol of Glacier National Park, can place all four feet on a rocky pinnacle or ledge that small, and they can leap from rock to rock. The design of the mountain goats’ legs and feet makes them very good climbers.

totallyoutthereDonna Love (“The Wild Life of Elk” and “Henry The Impatient Heron”) filled “The Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park” (Mountain Press, 2010) and the free Arts and Activities Guide (PDF download) with facts like these. Illustrated by Joyce Mihran Turley, the book’s visually exciting art work will delight the younger members of the family. The text is written for both teens and adults.

From the Publisher:

Glacier National Park remains a unique ecosystem, one of the most unspoiled in the world, full of wonders to discover. Triple Divide Peak is the only place in the United States where water flows to three oceans west to the Pacific Ocean, east to the Atlantic, and north to the Arctic. The Big Drift, the snowdrift that forms on Logan Pass each winter, can grow to over eighty feet high and takes road crews months to clear each spring. Come discover the Crown of the Continent with The Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park, the first in a new book series that encourages kids and their grownups to get off the couch and get totally out there experiencing the wonders of our national parks.

Join acclaimed author Donna Love as she examines the park s twenty-five remaining active glaciers, explains the formation of the park s towering mountains, vibrant valleys, and pristine lakes, and looks at living things from beargrass to grizzly bears. You ll learn about the park s human history as well, from the arrival of the first ancient peoples to the establishment of the park in 1910 to plans for the twenty-first century and beyond. Whether you re taking a real trip or an imaginary adventure, you ll definitely enjoy the journey!

Coming Soon

Donna is working on a similar book for fans of Yellowstone National Park. Donna says on her website that “When our children were young, I found I had the ability to explain nature to them. I believe that the more you know about something, the better care you can give it, so I enjoy learning about new subjects. To learn about the subjects for each of my books, I study it until I understand it. Then I explain it. I think that’s why children, as well as adults, love my writing.”

Her approach has, I think, made the 96-page “The Totally Out There Guide to Glacier National Park” a classic. We can look forward to her Yellowstone book with high expectations.

You May Also Like: A review of Sheridan Hough’s romantic mystery “Mirror’s Fathom.”

Malcolm

BearsWhereTheyFoughtCoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Bears; Where They Fought – Life in Glacier Park’s Swiftcurrent Valley.”

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Hotels in the National Parks – a sternly worded memo

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Why we’re out there – NPS Photo

When many of today’s historic hotels in the National Parks first opened, America was a different kind of place, so people appreciated “rustic” and didn’t expect to have all the comforts of the city out in the woods because, well, if they preferred the comforts of the city they would stay in the city.

From time to time, I complain about the inconsiderate people who ruin camping experiences for everyone else by “serenading” the woods with loud music, loud TV sets, video game racket, and various other hobbies that have no place in a wilderness setting. Frankly, I’m there to get away from all that. Those who are addicted to racket can (a) wear earphones or (b) go away.

The same Internet that makes it possible for me to say a few kind words about old hotels gives others an opportunity to say nasty things about those hotels even though old buildings in a restricted environment can’t (and shouldn’t) compete with one’s favorite, modern resort. But, I can’t help but wonder why people complain about the very things they should have expected to find.

People, The Hotels are Really Old

I wonder why we can’t tolerate “rustic” these days as good sports rather than griping on line about things that are, quite frankly, to be expected in a hotel built 100 years ago in an environment that isn’t kind to structures and in a place that cannot be disturbed by the kinds of “improvements” we take for granted in big city hotels that operate year-around with full access to the best transportation, water, power, DSL and everything else anyone could possibly ask for in a hotel.

Old hotels are likely to have smaller rooms, older-style bathrooms, thinner walls, floors/ceilings that creak and groan, balcony doors and windows that might rattle in the wind, no television or hotel-wide WiFi or DSL. We used to call this kind of thing charming because going to a National Park was traditionally considered “roughing it” even if you didn’t sleep in a tent. Light sleepers can take white noise machines. WiFi addicts can: (a) find the designated WiFI areas (if any), (b) consider entering a 12-step program before staying in a historic hotel so that the lack of instant access to the world outside the park won’t be more important than enjoying what is there, (c) Go away.

When staying in a National Register listed hotel, it’s good to remember that preservation of historic structures always trumps restoration, much less renovation.  Buildings are updated to comply with codes. But updating them because people want modern bathrooms, TV sets in rooms with less insulation between rooms, and a five-star, New York City experience in a wilderness setting is not only destructive to the historic building, but down right lousy management. In the preservation business, we often talk about Paul Bunyan’s axe. If you keep using it, you have to tolerate its fragility and construction and chop accordingly; otherwise, when you replace the handle one year and replace the axe head another year, it might look like Paul Bunyan’s axe. But it isn’t. It’s now a replica and no longer a historical treasure.

You Don’t Expect Granny to Dance Like a Teenager

I don’t know, maybe fewer people are tolerating granny these days because she’s old and acts her age and cannot do this or that with the same efficiency and style as a much younger person. Yes, I know, science will probably figure out how to keep replacing granny’s parts so that one day granny will be a teenager again. Of course, she won’t be granny any more either.

Old buildings also act their age, especially when their age=history. We cannot have it both ways. If we want to stay in a historic hotel, then we need to love it for what it is rather than taking away all of its history by modernizing the original building away over time with “improvements.”

In many ways, the National Park Service is the ultimate steward of these properties, because NPS  controls what can be changed and what cannot, how the hotel must function within a pristine environment, and even how much you pay for a room. Suffice it to say, the hotels are old, expensive to maintain and difficult to operate.

We’re there for nature, not pampering; so it would be nice, I think, for some constructive reviews on sites like TripAdvisor rather than listing “faults” that really are the realities of rustic accommodations in century-old hotels.

Malcolm

For More Information

The value of parks

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While serving as the chairman of my town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), I heard more than my share of gripes about the taxpayer costs of city budget items that were often labeled as “fluff” during difficult economic times. City parks, historic districts, entry-road signs, green space and related tree canopy programs,  and National Register of Historic Places districts were on most people’s hit lists.

The City Parks Alliance, for example, says on its home page that “Urban parks are dynamic institutions that play a vital, but not fully appreciated or understood role in the social, economic and physical well-being of America’s urban areas and its residents.” This is a good place to start. But, when taxes, city/federal budgets and the not-so-deep pockets of residents come together, it helps to have some dollar values to assign to the catch phrases.

Even though my love of parks includes environmental concerns, habitat protection, fresh air and recreation, such “fuzzy aesthetics” as these don’t wash during a confrontational city council budget meeting. Looking at the skimpy budgetary support of our National Parks system coming out of Washington, things that are good to do for their own sake don’t get much attention in Congress either.

Economic Value  – real estate, jobs, tourism

Locally, the HPC tried to stress the economic value of city parks, a value that typically exceeded the cost of maintaining the parks when viewed separately from recreational programs. In promoting economic returns, we were on the same page as the Chamber of Commerce, a group that knows the importance of such things as parks, green space, and historic preservation to corporations and individuals contemplating a move to a new city.

Historic districts, like museums and other cultural tourism attractions not only attract people (who make purchases throughout a city), but also create a level of interest that—according to studies—is higher than other vacation/business travel. While national parks and other wilderness areas with a lot to see tend to draw people who stay longer, the same is true for sites and attractions focusing on culture and history. Visitors to such sites stay longer and spend more than the average tourist.

Likewise, many studies have shown that the value of houses near city parks tends to be higher than the value of similar homes in other neighborhoods. While it’s easy to point fingers at the costs of maintaining a city park, their impact on real estate values is often overlooked when budgets and taxes are under scrutiny.

While city parks rated as excellent can increase the property values of nearby homes as much as 15%, the Trust for Public Land, in “Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System” (PDF link) takes a more conservative approach to account for those parks rated as problematic: “Once determined, the total assessed value of properties near parks is multiplied by 5 percent and then by the tax rate, yielding the increase in tax dollars attributable to park proximity.”

Regional Impact of a National Park

Last month, Glacier National Park released information that demonstrates the economic importance of a major tourist attraction. According to an NPS report for 2010, two million visitors came to the park, spending $10 million and supporting 1,695 local jobs.

“Glacier National Park has historically been an economic driver in the state,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright. “This report shows the value that the many goods and services provided by local businesses are to the park visitor, as well as employment opportunities for the area.” Click on economic benefits here to download the report itself.

Personally, the value of parks to me cannot be expressed in economic terms. Yet I’m realistic enough to know that people coping with stretched-to-the-limit household budgets need to see some real dollar values attached to local and national governmental expenses before they “buy in” to the value of parks.

The Trust of Public Land, City Parks Alliance, National Park Service, and your state’s Department of Natural Resources are good places to track down information that may help win over the homeowner next door who sees nothing  but red in city, state and national green spaces.

This free 48-page PDF about Glacier’s history, personalities, facilities, plants and animals can be downloaded from the Vanilla Heart Publishing page at Payloadz.

Summit Sets Course for Protecting America’s National Parks, Connecting to People

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from the National Parks and Conservation Association

Historic gathering of leading national park champions shapes outline for supporting National Park Service’s mission for 2016 centennial and the century to follow

Recognizing a growing need to unite the advocates, partners and supporters of national parks in advance of the upcoming 2016 National Park Service (NPS) centennial and beyond, the most diverse group of national park leaders ever convened gathered last week in Washington, D.C. to attend America’s Summit on National Parks. The Summit was a first of its kind event established in coordination with the NPS through a partnership of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA).

The two-day Summit, which took place January 24-26, was inspired by NPS’ recent Call to Action report [PDF download] and was designed to create unifying, clear objectives that will ensure the protection, enhancement, and support America’s iconic landmarks for centuries to come. The Summit inspired thought-provoking dialogue on some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing national parks currently. The Summit produced a working document outlining the participants’ shared “Statement of Principles” and “Action Items” to ensure that the seeds of progress begun from the passionate and inspired conversations will take root, leading to growth, change, increased accessibility and ultimate strengthening of the national park system and national park programs. The Summit drew prominent members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, major political advisors and top conservation, tourism and communication leaders.

In a joint statement regarding the Summit, Tom Kiernan, president of NPCA; Neil Mulholland, president of NPF; and Derrick Crandall, counselor of NPHA said:

“Our parks need to evolve with us. The passionate leaders and advocates who attended this Summit are committed to a united vision for the national parks to thrive in the next century. We understand that appropriate funding, diverse outreach, natural resource protection and conservation, updated facilities, and adequate staff are necessary to make sure our national parks remain attractive, healthy places for people to visit and enjoy. And, though there are many challenges, we are confident that this newly unified focus, support and dedication by the park community will make these goals obtainable.”

Yosemite - Call to Action Report

Among the most notable directives coming out of the Summit were to increase outreach to youth and other diverse populations; to make units within the NPS system more representative of the diverse makeup of the nation; to use technology, such as social media, smart phone applications, video games and other electronic technologies to attract visitors and improve park experiences; to highlight healthy food and opportunities for safe, active fun during park visits; to increase public awareness of the 2016 centennial; to create an endowment to provide the NPS with secure funding for the future; to encourage supporters and lovers of national parks to become more engaged with their members of Congress and other decision makers, and to grow the base of support for national parks, particularly among the health, education and tourism communities.

Leading up to the 2016 centennial, the current stewards of our national parks will take up the gauntlet thrown by this Summit. Through their work, these original goals will be enhanced and the shared vision will become action.

For more information about the Call to Action, click here.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three novels set in Glacier National Park, “Sarabande,” “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” and “The Sun Singer.”

105,000 Americans tell Congress to stop cutting critical funding for national parks

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from NPCA

Washington, DC – Today, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) announced that more than 105,000 Americans have signed their petition calling on Congress to stop cutting critical funding for national parks. The signatures were gathered through NPCA’s National Parks Protection Project.

“As we approach the Centennial of the National Park Service, we must ensure our national parks receive adequate funding for our children and grandchildren to enjoy,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. “This is by far the most successful petition drive we’ve ever had – in nearly 100 years of operations – and it’s time for Congress to take notice of how many people have joined this effort.”

NPCA founded the National Parks Protection Project as an effort to show both Congress and the American people why it is important to adequately fund the national parks for our children and grandchildren.

Our national parks not only protect America’s heritage, they are important to local economies nationwide. Research shows that every federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars of economic value for the American people. National parks support more than $13 billion of local private-sector economic activity and nearly 270,000 private-sector jobs.

“The federal government has a responsibility to keep our national parks adequately funded,” said Kiernan. “The National Parks Protection Project is our effort to explain why and I am grateful to the more than 105,000 people across the country who joined our effort.”

Click here for more information.

Glacier National Parki, where my three fantasy novels are set, has been plagued with these cutbacks. Even normal maintenance on trails, signs, structures and other parts of the infrastructure has been postponed again and again. When I first went to Glacier in 1963, the park advertised 1000 miles of trails. Now it advertises 700 miles of trails. If we are going to protect the wilderness, we need to spend what it takes to do it.

Malcolm

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