The Centennial Act, Why It Matters and How OIA Is Supporting It

Proposed legislation would combine federal funds with private dollars to maintain our national parks for the next 100 years.

By Jessica Wahl April 19, 2016

 

Like the outdoor industry, Congress is marking this year’s National Park Service Centennial. We do it with events and celebrations, they’re doing it with a bill that will ensure our parks remain viable for the next 100 years. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced of the National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680), and, as chairman of the Natural Resource Committee, he was able to move the bill quickly through committee, a critical step toward passage.

Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that his National Park Service Centennial Act has been adopted as part of the Senate’s broader energy legislation. The amendment celebrates the National Park Service’s 100th year of existence, and ensures that it has the resources necessary to protect America’s national parks into its second century.

The National Park Service faces a $12-billion maintenance backlog while at the same time absorbing record visitation, with over 305 million visitors in 2015. A key aspect of the Centennial legislation is leveraging private dollars with federal funding to provide the greatest return on investments made to our parks, which have had to deal with declining budgets, fewer staff and costly management issues such as climate change.

A key aspect of the Centennial legislation is leveraging private dollars with federal funding to provide the greatest return on investments made to our parks, which have had to deal with declining budgets, fewer staff and costly management issues such as climate change.

The Centennial Challenge concept started under President George W. Bush and has been embraced by President Obama as a tool that can double federal investment by providing certainty to the private sector that federal funds supporting the parks will be designated fully and appropriately.

Outdoor Industry Association is pleased to see a comprehensive funding model provided by this legislation. The Centennial bill also establishes an endowment for our parks and other provisions that promote opportunities for our youth and veterans and enhance interpretation, education and volunteer programs.

Our national parks are world-renowned and have inspired millions of people, but they are also iconic public lands that support the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. We are excited to have leaders from across the industry with us next week for the annual OIA Capitol Summit to advocate for this bill and much more.