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Updated January 8, 2020
National Park Service: FY2020 Appropriations
The National Park Service (NPS) administers the National
Because FY2020 appropriations were not enacted by the
Park System, which includes 419 units valued for their
start of the fiscal year, two continuing resolutions, P.L. 116-
natural, cultural, and recreational importance and covers 85
59 and P.L. 116-69, provided continuing appropriations at
million acres (81 million acres of federal land and 4 million
FY2019 levels prior to enactment of P.L. 116-94.
nonfederal). As an agency in the Department of the Interior,
NPS receives funding in annual appropriations laws for
NPS’s Appropriations Accounts
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Issues for
NPS has six discretionary appropriations accounts (Figure
Congress include the total level of NPS appropriations,
1). The majority of NPS discretionary appropriations
funding to address NPS’s backlog of deferred maintenance,
typically have gone to the Operation of the National Park
and funding for land acquisition, among others.
System (ONPS) account to support day-to-day activities,
programs, and services at park units. These include resource
stewardship, visitor services, park protection, facility
The Trump Administration requested $2.742 billion in
operations and maintenance, and administrative costs.
FY2020 discretionary appropriations for NPS. The
requested amount was 15% less than NPS’s FY2019 regular
Figure 1. NPS Appropriations Accounts
appropriation of $3.223 billion, enacted in P.L. 116-6. (For
(percentages reflect FY2019 regular appropriations)
FY2019, P.L. 116-20 also provided $0.128 billion in
supplemental funding for NPS to address hurricane and
typhoon damage.) The request included reductions for all
NPS accounts as compared with FY2019.
P.L. 116-94, enacted on December 20, 2019, contained
$3.377 billion for NPS, 5% more than the FY2019 regular
appropriation and 23% more than the Administration-
requested amount. The law included increases for most
NPS accounts compared with FY2019 regular
appropriations in P.L. 116-6 and increases for all accounts
compared with the Administration’s request (Table 1). In
earlier action, on June 25, 2019, the House had passed H.R.
3055, an FY2020 consolidated appropriations bill with
$3.362 billion for NPS (also see H.Rept. 116-100 on H.R.
Source: H.Rept. 116-9. Figure does not reflect FY2019 supplemental
3052, an earlier stand-alone House Interior bill). On
appropriations in P.L. 116-20.
October 31, 2019, the Senate had passed its version of H.R.
Notes: ONPS = Operation of the National Park System.
3055, with $3.356 billion for NPS (also see S.Rept. 116-
NR&P = National Recreation and Preservation.
123 on S. 2580, a Senate stand-alone bill).
Table 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations by Account ($ in millions)
FY2020 House-Passed Senate-Passed
H.R. 3055 P.L. 116-94 FY2019-FY2020
Operation of the Nat’l. Park System
Land Acquisition and State Assistance
Historic Preservation Fund
Nat’l. Recreation and Preservation
LWCF Rescission of Contract Authority
Sources: H.Rept. 116-9; NPS FY2020 budget request; H.Rept. 116-100; S.Rept. 116-123; and joint explanatory statement for P.L. 116-94.
LWCF = Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Notes: Totals may not sum precisely due to rounding. Table does not reflect FY2019 supplemental appropriations of $128.0 million in P.L.
116-20 (provided as emergency spending outside of discretionary spending limits).
National Park Service: FY2020 Appropriations
NPS’s Construction account covers rehabilitation and
Rehabilitation” in the ONPS account) are among the
replacement of existing facilities as well as new
primary sources of funds for NPS DM, and for FY2019
construction. In recent years, the agency has planned no
NPS also allocated funds from a “General Program
new facility construction in order to prioritize deferred
Increase” for the Construction account in P.L. 116-6.
maintenance. NPS prioritizes projects based on “mission
According to NPS, these three sources provided a combined
factors” and cost-benefit considerations. The account also
$395.3 million for FY2019. For FY2020, P.L. 116-94
covers other construction activities and planning.
provided $418.9 million for the two budget subactivities
with no general program increase. Portions of other NPS
Funding for the Land Acquisition and State Assistance
discretionary budget activities also are used for DM.
(LASA) account comes from the Land and Water
Additionally, allocations from the Highway Trust Fund
Conservation Fund (LWCF; 54 U.S.C. §200301), the
support NPS road repair and improvements. Other sources,
primary funding source for the federal land management
such as recreation fees, also may be used.
agencies to acquire lands. The account covers both NPS’s
own acquisitions—typically nonfederal “inholdings” inside
Congress has considered whether to increase discretionary
the boundaries of national park units—and NPS grants to
funding for NPS DM, provide mandatory funding, and/or
states for outdoor recreation needs.
direct the agency to use existing funding differently. For
more information, see CRS Report R44924, The National
NPS administers historic preservation programs through its
Park Service’s Maintenance Backlog: Frequently Asked
Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) account. Under the
Questions; and CRS In Focus IF10987, Legislative
National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S.C. §300101),
Proposals for a National Park Service Deferred
the fund receives $150 million annually from offshore
energy revenues, but monies are available only as provided
in appropriations acts. Most of the funding goes to state and
Land Acquisition Funding
tribal historic preservation offices as formula grants to
The extent to which NPS land acquisition funding should
preserve cultural and historical assets and sites. Congress
be increased, decreased, or redirected remains a focus for
also has made available some funding for nationally
Congress. At a broad level, some in Congress object to
competitive grant programs.
further expansion of the federal estate, whereas others feel
that more areas need federal protection. For NPS, some
The National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P) account
Members have suggested that agency funding to acquire
funds NPS programs that assist state, local, tribal, and
new lands is misplaced when maintenance needs for
private land managers with grants for outdoor recreation
existing lands in the system are not being met. Some also
planning, natural and cultural resource preservation, and
assert that recent acquisitions have lacked the national value
other activities. The largest single program funded through
of earlier iconic parks. Supporters of NPS land acquisition
the account is NPS assistance to national heritage areas.
funding have noted that the funds typically are used to
acquire nonfederal inholdings within existing park units.
The Centennial Challenge account supports the National
They contend that such acquisitions help to complete
Park Centennial Challenge Fund. Authorized by Congress
valued parks and may facilitate maintenance efforts.
in 2016 (54 U.S.C. §103501), the fund provides matching
grants to spur partner donations for projects or programs
For FY2019, P.L. 116-6 provided $44.4 million for NPS
that further the NPS mission and enhance the visitor
land acquisition. For FY2020, P.L. 116-94 provided $68.4
experience. Deferred maintenance is prioritized. The fund
million. The Administration had requested no new funding
also is authorized to receive offsetting collections from the
for NPS land acquisition projects in FY2020, in order to
sale of senior passes under the Federal Lands Recreational
focus resources on management of existing lands and
Enhancement Act (16 U.S.C. §6801).
In addition to discretionary appropriations, NPS receives
NPS Assistance to Nonfederal Sites and Programs
mandatory appropriations from entrance and recreation
Some Members, along with the Trump and Obama
fees, concessioner fees, donations, and other sources, which
Administrations, have questioned whether NPS assistance
may be used for specified purposes such as maintenance
to nonfederal sites and programs should be reduced to focus
and visitor services. NPS estimated mandatory
funding on NPS’s “core” of managing federal parks. Two
appropriations of $733.4 million for FY2020, a decrease of
NPS accounts (NR&P and HPF), along with part of the
4% from its estimated mandatory funding for FY2019.
LASA account, fund such assistance. These monies
Issues for Congress
combined represented less than 10% of total NPS funding
in FY2019. For FY2020, P.L. 116-94 increased funding for
all of these assistance accounts over FY2019. The
NPS’s backlog of deferred maintenance (DM), estimated at
Administration had proposed reductions for these programs
$11.920 billion as of the end of FY2018 (the most recent
and elimination of some types of assistance, including NPS
year reported), remains a significant issue in the
grants to national heritage areas (which are nonfederally
appropriations process. Despite legislation and agency
managed). The FY2020 budget justification encouraged
actions aimed at addressing the backlog, it has increased
heritage area managers to seek sustainable funding from
over the past decade. NPS funding to address DM comes
local and private beneficiaries.
from discretionary appropriations and other sources. Two
Laura B. Comay, Specialist in Natural Resources
appropriations subactivities (“Line-Item Construction and
Maintenance” in the Construction account and “Repair and
National Park Service: FY2020 Appropriations
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