House passes National Park Service centennial bill

House passes National Park Service centennial bill
© Getty

The House on Tuesday passed a bill to mark the centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) and expand programming within the department. 

The bipartisan bill aims to attract private donations to match government spending on National Park projects. 

ADVERTISEMENT
It also creates an endowment fund for the National Park Foundation, reforms the foundation’s board and volunteer program, and seeks more tribal input on an NPS historic preservation committee.

The House passed the bill on a unanimous voice vote Tuesday. 

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Energy: GOP chairman has 'more questions' on Whitefish deal | Dems slam EPA science board changes | Industry pushes back on Perry grid plan GOP chairman has ‘more questions’ about Puerto Rico’s Whitefish Energy contract The SECURE American Energy Act only endangers public lands MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said the legislation will help the Park Service tackle problems like a maintenance backlog and fund infrastructure projects. 

“This does not fix all of the National Park Service problems, but it’s a good start, and for their centennial this is an excellent way to move forward on the challenges they face," he said.

The National Parks Conservation Association called the bill a “victory for our national parks.”

“As the Park Service concludes its centennial year, there has never been a better time for Congress to help restore America’s national treasures,” Theresa Pierno, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement. 

Though the bill passed on a voice vote and had Democratic support, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the Natural Resources Committee’s Federal Lands panel, said she hopes Congress will pass a bill to directly address NPS's $12 billion maintenance backlog.

“In the short term, the legislation before us today is a good first step and I support the bill, but Congress must find a way to appropriate new funds to our national parks in order to preserve and protect them for future generations of Americans,” she said.