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October 7, 2020
National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations
The National Park Service (NPS) administers the National
would reduce funding for accounts that address
Park System, which includes 421 units valued for their
construction and land acquisition, two activities affected by
natural, cultural, and recreational importance. System lands
mandatory spending in the recently enacted GAOA .
cover 81 million federal acres and 4 million nonfederal
acres. As part of the Department of the Interior, NPS
Because regular FY2021 appropriations were not enacted
receives funding in annual appropriations laws for Interior,
by the start of the fiscal year, a continuing resolution, P.L.
Environment, and Related Agencies. Selected issues for
116-159, provides appropriations at FY2020 levels through
Congress include the total level of NPS appropriations,
December 11, 2020.
funding to address NPS’s backlog of deferred maintenance
(DM), and funds for NPS assistance to nonfederal entities.
NPS’s Appropriations Accounts
NPS has six discretionary appropriations accounts (Figure
1). The majority of NPS discretionary appropriations
The Trump Administration requested $2.793 billion in
typically have gone to the Operation of the National Park
FY2021 discretionary appropriations for NPS. The request
System (ONPS) account to support day-to-day activities,
was 17% less than NPS’s FY2020 appropriation of $3.377
programs, and services at park units. These include resource
billion, enacted in P.L. 116-94. The request included
stewardship, visitor services, park protection, facility
reductions for all NPS accounts as compared with FY2020.
operations and maintenance, and administrative costs.
NPS’s budget justification also estimated $0.749 billion in
mandatory appropriations for NPS for FY2021, an increase
Figure 1. NPS Appropriations Accounts
of 1% over estimated NPS mandatory funding for FY2020.
(percentages reflect FY2020 appropriations)
These mandatory appropriations come from entrance and
recreation fees, concessioner fees, donations, and other
sources. In July 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act
(GAOA; P.L. 116-152) established additional mandatory
spending for NPS, including a fund to address agency DM
needs. The GAOA also designated, as mandatory spending,
agency funding from the Land and Water Conservation
Fund (LWCF; 54 U.S.C. §200301), previously provided
through discretionary appropriations.
On July 14, 2020, the House Committee on Appropriations
reported H.R. 7612 (H.Rept. 116-448), with $3.224 billion
for NPS for FY2021. On July 24, 2020, the House passed
H.R. 7608, a consolidated bill with the same amount for
NPS (Table 1). The amount is 15% higher than the
Source: Joint explanatory statement for P.L. 116-94.
Administration’s request and 5% lower than the FY2020
Notes: ONPS = Operation of the National Park System.
appropriation. The House bill contains increases or level
NR&P = National Recreation and Preservation.
funding for most NPS accounts compared with FY2020 but
Table 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations by Account ($ in millions)
% Change from House-Passed
% Change from
Operation of the Nat’l. Park System
Land Acquisition and State Assistance
Historic Preservation Fund
Nat’l. Recreation and Preservation
Centennial Chal enge
Sources: Data from House Committee on Appropriations and NPS FY2021 budget request. Totals may not sum precisely due to rounding.
National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations
For the Land Acquisition and State Assistance account, H.R. 7608 provides no new funding and contains a rescission of $2.0 mil ion. This
account has in past years been supported by funding from the LWCF, which was made mandatory spending by the GAOA (see above).
NPS’s Construction account covers rehabilitation and
$267.7 million. Portions of other NPS discretionary budget
replacement of existing facilities as well as new
activities also are used for DM. Additionally, allocations
construction. NPS prioritizes DM in project planning.
from the Highway Trust Fund support NPS road repair and
Projects are evaluated based on department-wide criteria
improvements. Other sources, such as recreation fees, also
related to the condition of assets and their importance to the
have been used. For more information on NPS DM, see
park’s purposes. The account also covers other construction
CRS Report R44924, National Park Service Deferred
activities and planning.
Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions.
In past years, NPS’s Land Acquisition and State Assistance
In recent years, Congress has debated whether to increase
(LASA) account has consisted of discretionary
discretionary funding for NPS DM, provide new mandatory
appropriations from the LWCF, the primary funding source
funding, and/or direct the agency to use existing funding
for the federal land management agencies to acquire lands.
differently. The GAOA (P.L. 116-152), enacted in July
The account has covered NPS’s own acquisitions—
2020, provided a potentially significant source of new
typically nonfederal “inholdings” inside the boundaries of
mandatory funding for NPS DM. To address DM of five
national park units—and NPS grants to states for outdoor
agencies, the GAOA established a fund receiving deposits
recreation needs. In July 2020, the GAOA made all funding
of certain federal energy revenues over five years, up to a
from the LWCF mandatory spending.
cap of $1.9 billion annually. NPS is to receive 70% of the
available funding. NPS must submit lists of priority DM
NPS administers historic preservation programs through its
projects to Congress with annual budget justifications.
Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) account. Under the
Appropriators may specify alternate allocations for the
National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S.C. §300101),
funding. For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11636,
the fund receives $150 million annually from offshore
The Great American Outdoors Act, P.L. 116-152.
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
LWCF funding for NPS land acquisition has been a subject
preserve cultural and historical assets and sites. Congress
of debate in the annual appropriations process. Some
also has made some funding available for nationally
Members have expressed the view that agency funding to
competitive grant programs.
acquire new lands is misplaced given maintenance needs
for existing lands, whereas others have contended that the
The National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P) account
funds—which typically are used to acquire nonfederal
funds NPS programs that assist state, local, tribal, and
inholdings within existing park units—help to complete
private land managers with grants for outdoor recreation
valued parks and may facilitate maintenance efforts. The
planning, natural and cultural resource preservation, and
GAOA shifted LWCF land acquisition funding for NPS and
other activities. The largest single program funded through
other agencies from discretionary to mandatory spending.
the account is NPS assistance to national heritage areas.
Under the GAOA, NPS budget submissions still would
The Centennial Challenge account supports the National
include account, program, and project allocations for the
Park Centennial Challenge Fund. Authorized by Congress
agency’s LWCF funding and appropriations acts could
in 2016 (54 U.S.C. §103501), the fund provides matching
specify alternate allocations.
grants to spur partner donations for projects or programs
that further the NPS mission and enhance the visitor
NPS Assistance to Nonfederal Sites and Programs
experience. DM is prioritized. The fund also is authorized
Some Members, along with the Trump and Obama
to receive offsetting collections from the sale of senior
Administrations, have questioned whether NPS assistance
passes under the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement
to nonfederal sites and programs should be reduced to focus
Act (16 U.S.C. §6801).
funding on NPS’s “core” mission of managing national
parks. Two NPS accounts (NR&P and HPF), along with
Issues for Congress
part of the LASA account, have funded such nonfederal
assistance. These monies combined represented less than
10% of total NPS funding in FY2020. For FY2021, House-
NPS’s backlog of DM, estimated at $11.920 billion as of
passed H.R. 7608 would increase funding for both the
the end of FY2018 (the most recent year reported), has been
NR&P and HPF accounts. (Under the GAOA, assistance to
a significant issue in the appropriations process. Despite
states in the LASA account shifts to mandatory spending.)
legislation and agency actions aimed at addressing the
The Administration proposes reductions for these programs
backlog, it has increased over the past decade. NPS funding
and the elimination of some types of assistance, including
to address DM comes from multiple sources and includes
NPS grants to national heritage areas, which are
both discretionary and mandatory spending. Two
nonfederally managed. The FY2021 budget justification
appropriations sub-activities (Line-Item Construction and
would encourage heritage area managers to seek sustainable
Maintenance in the Construction account and Repair and
funding from local and private beneficiaries.
Rehabilitation in the ONPS account) have been primary
sources of funding for NPS DM. For FY2020, P.L. 116-94
Laura B. Comay, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
provided $418.9 million for these two budget sub-activities;
for FY2021, House-passed H.R. 7608 would provide
National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations
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