Order Code IB10145
CRS Issue Brief for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
National Park Management
Updated May 2, 2006
Carol Hardy Vincent, Coordinator
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
Overview of Topics
Wild and Scenic Rivers
FOR ADDITIONAL READING
National Park Management
The 109th Congress is considering legislation and conducting oversight on National
Park Service (NPS) related topics. The Administration is addressing park issues through
budgetary, regulatory, and other actions.
Earlier Congresses and Administrations also
have dealt with similar issues. While this
report focuses on several key topics, others
may be added if circumstances warrant.
Policy Revisions. The NPS is currently
revising its service-wide management policies
— one of the authorities governing decision
making on a wide range of issues. Draft
policies have been controversial, with debate
over whether any policy changes are needed,
some of the particular changes that have been
proposed, and the procedure for proposing
changes. The House and Senate have held
hearings on this issue, related NPS authorities,
and broader management issues.
Historic Preservation. The NPS administers the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF),
which provides grants to states and other
entities to protect cultural resources. Congress provides annual appropriations for the
HPF, and views differ as to whether to retain
the federal role in financing the fund or to rely
exclusively on private support. Legislation
has been introduced to reauthorize the HPF,
and the Senate measure (S. 1378) has been
reported from committee.
Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Wild and
Scenic Rivers System preserves free-flowing
rivers, which are designated by Congress or
through state nomination with Secretarial
approval. The NPS, and other federal agencies with responsibility for managing designated rivers, prepare management plans to
protect river values. Management of lands
within river corridors is sometimes controversial, because of issues including the possible
effects of designation on private lands and of
corridor activities on the rivers. Legislation is
pending to designate, study, or extend components of the system.
Maintenance Backlog. There is debate
over the funding level to meet the physical
maintenance obligations of the NPS and
whether to provide new funds or use funds
from existing programs for them. Attention
has focused on the NPS’s multibillion-dollar
maintenance backlog, but views differ as to
whether the backlog has increased or decreased in recent years. For FY2006, Congress included money in P.L. 109-54 to address some backlog needs.
Congressional Research Service
Other Issues. Some other park management topics of interest to the 109th Congress
are covered there. They relate to the competitive sourcing initiative, whereby certain NPS
activities judged to be commercial in nature
are subject to public-private competition; air
quality at national park units; and security of
park units, particularly at national icons and
along international borders.
The Library of Congress
MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
The 109th Congress is examining, through legislation or oversight, a number of National
Park Service (NPS) topics that have generated continuing interest. The most recent actions
related to these topics are noted below.
For FY2007, the Administration requested $71.9 million for the Historic
Preservation Fund, and proposed combining funding for National Heritage
Areas, Save America’s Treasures, and Preserve America grants into a new
program within the Historic Preservation Fund.
On April 20, 2006, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
reported S. 1378 to reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund through
DOI has estimated NPS deferred maintenance at between $5.80 billion and
$12.42 billion for FY2005. The NPS continues to define and quantify its
maintenance needs, with comprehensive condition assessments expected by
the end of FY2006.
The NPS currently is analyzing public comment on its draft Management
Policies received before the closing date of February 18, 2006, and
considering changes to the draft.
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
The National Park System is perhaps the federal land category best known to the public.
The National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) manages 390 units,
including 58 units formally entitled national parks and a host of other designations.1 The
system has more than 84 million acres.2 The NPS has an appropriation of about $2.28 billion
for FY2006. As of January 10, 2006, the agency employed 24,679 federal employees and
used an additional 137,000 volunteers. An estimated 263 million people visited park units
The NPS statutory mission is multifaceted: to conserve, preserve, protect, and interpret
the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the nation for the public, and to provide for
their use and enjoyment by the public. The use and preservation of resources has appeared
to some as contradictory and has resulted in management challenges. Attention centers on
how to balance the recreational use of parklands with the preservation of park resources, and
Descriptions of the different designations are on the NPS website at [http://www.nps.gov/legacy/].
Brief information on each unit is contained in U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, The
National Parks: Index 2001-2003 (Washington, DC: 2001).
This figure includes an estimated 79 million acres of federal land, 1 million acres of other public
land, and 4 million acres of private land. NPS policy is to acquire these nonfederal in-holdings from
willing sellers as funds are made available or to create special agreements to encourage landowners
determine appropriate levels and sources of funding to maintain NPS facilities and to manage
NPS programs. In general, activities that harvest or remove resources from units of the
system are not allowed. The NPS also supports the preservation of natural and historic
places and promotes recreation outside the system through grant and technical assistance
The establishment of several national parks preceded the 1916 creation of the National
Park Service (NPS) as the park system management agency. Congress established the
nation’s first national park — Yellowstone National Park — in 1872. The park was created
in the then-territories of Montana and Wyoming “for the benefit and enjoyment of the
people,” and placed “under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior” (16 U.S.C.
§§21-22). In the 1890s and early 1900s, Congress created several other national parks mostly
from western public domain lands, including Sequoia, Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Crater
Lake, and Glacier. In addition to the desire to preserve nature, there was interest in
promoting tourism. Western railroads, often recipients of vast public land grants, were
advocates of many of the early parks and built grand hotels in them to support their business.
There also were efforts to protect the sites and structures of early Native American
cultures and other special sites. The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to
proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain “historic landmarks, historic and
prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” (16 U.S.C. §431).
Most national monuments are managed by the NPS. (For more information, see CRS Report
RS20902, National Monument Issues, by Carol Hardy Vincent.)
There was no system of national parks and monuments until 1916, when President
Wilson signed a law creating the NPS to manage and protect the national parks and many of
the monuments. That Organic Act provided that the NPS “shall promote and regulate the
use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations ... to conserve
the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for
the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired
for the enjoyment of future generations” (16 U.S.C. §1). President Franklin D. Roosevelt
greatly expanded the system of parks in 1933 by transferring 63 national monuments and
historic military sites from the USDA Forest Service and the War Department to the NPS.
Overview of Topics
The 109th Congress is considering legislation or conducting oversight on many NPSrelated topics. Several major topics are covered in this report: historic preservation through
the Historic Preservation Fund, which is administered by the NPS; the NPS maintenance
backlog; an NPS review of agency policies; and management of wild and scenic rivers,
which are administered by the NPS or another land management agency. Other issues
addressed in brief are activities of the NPS under the President’s Competitive Sourcing
Initiative, air quality at national park units, and security of NPS units and lands.
While in some cases the topics covered are relevant to other federal lands and agencies,
this report does not comprehensively cover topics primarily affecting other lands/agencies.
For background on federal land management generally, see CRS Report RL32393, Federal
Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and Resources Management,
coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent. Overview information on numerous natural resource
issues, focused on resource use and protection, is provided in CRS Report RL32699, Natural
Resources: Selected Issues for the 109th Congress, coordinated by Nicole Carter and Carol
Hardy Vincent. Information on appropriations for the NPS is included in CRS Report
RL33399, Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2007 Appropriations,
coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent and Susan Boren. Information on BLM and Forest
Service lands is contained in CRS Issue Brief IB10076, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Lands and National Forests, coordinated by Ross W. Gorte and Carol Hardy Vincent.
Several other NPS-related topics are not covered in this brief. Some of them, or other
topics, may be added to this brief if events warrant. For example, how national park units
are created and what qualities make an area eligible to be an NPS unit are of continuing
interest. (For more information, see CRS Report RS20158, National Park System:
Establishing New Units, by Carol Hardy Vincent.) Second, legislation has been considered
in recent Congresses to study, designate, and fund particular National Heritage Areas
(NHAs) as well as to establish a process and criteria for designating and managing NHAs.
(For more information, see CRS Issue Brief IB10126, Heritage Areas: Background,
Proposals, and Current Issues, by Carol Hardy Vincent and David Whiteman.) Third, recent
decades have witnessed increased demand for a variety of recreational opportunities on
federal lands and waters. New forms of motorized recreation have gained in popularity, and
the use of motorized off-highway vehicles (OHVs) has been particularly contentious. (For
more information, see CRS Issue Brief IB10141, Recreation on Federal Lands, coordinated
by Kori Calvert and Carol Hardy Vincent.) Fourth, the management of the NPS concessions
program, which provides commercial visitor services, continues to receive oversight.
Finally, the role of gateway communities in NPS planning and the impact of land uses on
gateway communities have received increased attention.
Historic Preservation (by Susan Boren)
Background. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA; P.L. 89-665,
16 U.S.C. §479) created a program of state grants for historic preservation under the Historic
Preservation Fund (HPF). The program has been expanded to include Indian tribal grants;
grants for Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians; restoration grants for buildings at
historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); and Save America’s Treasures grants.
The major purpose of the HPF program is to protect cultural resources.
Administered by the National Park Service, the HPF provides grants-in-aid to states and
territories for activities specified in the NHPA. These grants are funded on a 60% federal/
40% state matching share basis. States carry out program purposes directly through State
Historic Preservation Offices or through subgrants and contracts with public and private
agencies, organizations, institutions of higher education, and private individuals. Under law,
10% of each state’s annual allocation distributed by the Secretary of the Interior is to be
transferred to local governments that are certified eligible under program regulation.
Some Members of Congress support proposals to eliminate a federal government role
in financing the HPF, leaving such programs to be sustained by private support. A case in
point is the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for which permanent federal funding
was eliminated in FY1998. Others assert that a federal role in supporting historic
preservation is necessary and should be maintained. One example of a program receiving
bipartisan support is the Save America’s Treasures program, currently funded under the HPF.
The HPF, authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 2000
(NHPA; P.L. 106-208), expired at the end of FY2005 but has been sustained through the
FY2006 Interior appropriations law.
Administrative Actions. President Bush’s annual budget requests, including the
request for FY2007, have recommended funding for a Preserve America program (previously
established by Executive Order 13287). The program consists of competitive grants
providing one-time assistance to encourage community preservation of cultural, historic, and
natural heritage through education and heritage tourism. It serves as an adjunct to Save
America’s Treasures. For FY2006, Congress provided that a portion of Save America’s
Treasures funds could be allocated to Preserve America’s grants. (See “Legislative Activity”
below.) The first round of Preserve America grants for FY2006 (totaling $3.5 million) was
announced on March 9, 2006. Funds for Save America’s Treasures were first appropriated
in FY1999 and used to restore such historic documents as the Star Spangled Banner, the
Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. These projects require a 50% cost
share, and no single project can receive more than one grant from this program.
The FY2007 Administration budget contains $71.9 million for the Historic Preservation
Fund. It proposes shifting funding for National Heritage Areas to the HPF, as part of a new
America’s Heritage and Preservation Partnership Program. Funding for Heritage
Partnerships would be cut from $13.3 million in FY2006 to $7.4 million for FY2007. The
Save America’s Treasures program would be cut in half, from $29.6 million to $14.8 million,
but the Preserve America grants would double — from $5.0 million to $10.0 million.
In other action, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which in its advisory
capacity oversees NHPA §106 historic preservation review, has proposed principles for a
policy revision that is controversial with the public and Indian tribes. (See 70 Fed. Reg.
52066, September 1, 2005.) The Advisory Council was established as an independent
agency by the NHPA to advise Congress and the President on historic preservation matters.
Section 106 requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings
on historic properties. The proposed principles bring to the forefront the issue of the power
of the Advisory Council, including the extent to which its policies have the force of law and
whether it is allowed to make final decisions in §106 reviews. This issue is likely to be
considered during NHPA reauthorization.
Legislative Activity. Most of the recent congressional action on historic preservation
has been in the appropriations arena, since the authorization typically has been for five-year
periods (most recently through FY2005). P.L. 109-54 provided $72.2 million for HPF for
FY2006. The total included $29.6 million for Save America’s Treasures, $35.7 million for
grants-in-aid to states, $3.9 million for tribal grants, and $3.0 million for HBCUs.
Appropriations law also provided funding for Preserve America — not to exceed $5.0
million to be allocated through Save America’s Treasures. In addition, H.R. 3446 and S.
1378 seek to reauthorize the HPF (§108, NHPA) and to amend provisions pertaining to the
operation of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The House bill would
reauthorize the HPF through FY2011, while the Senate bill, as reported from committee on
April 20, 2006 (S.Rept. 109-235), would extend the HPF through FY2015. (For more
information on funding for historic preservation, see CRS Report 96-123, Historic
Preservation: Background and Funding, by Susan Boren.)
The President’s FY2006 supplemental request and the House-passed bill for FY2006
emergency supplemental appropriations for hurricane recovery (H.R. 4939) would provide
$3.0 million for the HPF. The bill as reported by the Senate Committee on Appropriations
and under consideration by the Senate would provide $83.0 million for the HPF. That
amount exceeds the current FY2006 appropriation for all of HPF’s programs ($72.2 million)
as well as the President’s FY2007 request ($71.9 million). The Senate version seeks to
establish a specialized grants-in-aid program ($80.0 million) for the repair and rehabilitation
of historic structures that were damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and to assist ($3.0
million) SHPOs in states that sustained the most hurricane damage.
Maintenance Backlog (by Carol Hardy Vincent)
Background. The NPS has maintenance responsibility for buildings, trails, recreation
sites, and other infrastructure. There is debate over the levels of funds to maintain this
infrastructure, whether to use funds from other programs, and how to balance the
maintenance of the existing infrastructure with the acquisition of new assets. Congress
continues to focus on the agency’s deferred maintenance, often called the maintenance
backlog — essentially maintenance that could not be done when scheduled or planned. DOI
estimates deferred maintenance for the NPS for FY2005, based on varying assumptions, at
between $5.80 billion and $12.42 billion with a mid-range figure of $9.11 billion. While the
other federal land management agencies — the Forest Service (FS), Bureau of Land
Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) — also have maintenance
backlogs, congressional and administrative attention has centered on the NPS backlog. For
FY2005, the FS estimates its backlog at $5.97 billion, while DOI estimates the FWS backlog
at between $1.73 billion and $2.34 billion and the BLM backlog at between $0.39 billion and
$0.47 billion. The four agencies together have a combined backlog estimated at between
$13.88 billion and $21.20 billion, with a mid-range figure of $17.54 billion, according to the
agencies.3 The NPS and other agency backlogs have been attributed to decades of funding
shortfalls. The agencies assert that continuing to defer maintenance of facilities accelerates
their rate of deterioration, increases their repair costs, and decreases their value.
Administrative Actions. In FY2002, the Bush Administration proposed to eliminate
the NPS backlog (estimated at $4.9 billion in 2002) over five years. The NPS budget
justification for FY2007 states that, beginning with FY2002, “nearly $4.7 billion has been
invested in deferred maintenance.”4 The figure reflects total appropriations for line items of
which deferred maintenance is only a part. Specifically, according to the NPS, it consists of
appropriations for all NPS facility maintenance, NPS construction, and the NPS park roads
Estimates are from DOI and the FS, and reflect only direct project costs in accordance with
requirements of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board.
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Budget Justifications and Performance
Information, Fiscal Year 2007, p. overview-3 (Washington, DC: 2006).
and parkway program funded through the Federal Highway Administration. It also includes
fees used for maintenance. The National Parks Conservation Association claims that the
Administration has supported little new money to address park maintenance, and is using
“misleading” math to appear to be on track to eliminate the backlog.5 It further contends that
national parks on average have about 2/3 of the funding they need, and that sufficient
operating funds are necessary for stemming the growth of the backlog.
It is uncertain if the NPS backlog has decreased, increased, or remained the same in
recent years. For instance, while estimates of the backlog increased from an average of $4.25
billion in FY1999 to $9.11 billion in FY2005, it is unclear what portion of the change is due
to the addition of maintenance work that was not done on time or the availability of more
precise estimates of the backlog. Further, it is unclear how much total funding has been
provided for backlogged maintenance over this period. Annual presidential budget requests
and appropriations laws do not typically specify funds for backlogged maintenance, but
instead combine funding for all NPS construction, facility operation, and regular and deferred
maintenance. According to the DOI Budget Office, the appropriation for NPS deferred
maintenance increased from $223.0 million in FY1999 to $311.1 million in FY2006, with
a peak in FY2002 at $364.2 million. For FY2007, the Administration requested $208.1
million, a $103.0 million (33%) reduction from the FY2006 level and a $14.9 million (7%)
reduction from the FY1999 level.
The NPS has been defining and quantifying its maintenance needs. These efforts, like
those of other land management agencies, include developing computerized systems for
tracking and prioritizing maintenance projects and collecting comprehensive data on the
condition of facilities — expected by the end of FY2006.
Legislative Activity. H.R. 1124 and S. 886 seek to eliminate the annual operating
deficit and maintenance backlog in the national park system. They would create the National
Park Centennial Fund in the Treasury, to be comprised of monies designated by taxpayers
on their tax returns. If monies from tax returns are insufficient to meet funding levels
established in the bill, they are to be supplemented by contributions to the Centennial Fund
from the General Fund of the Treasury. For FY2006, there is to be deposited in the
Centennial Fund $150.0 million, with an increase of 15% each year though FY2016. The
Fund would be available to the Secretary of the Interior, without further appropriation, as
follows: 60% to eliminate the NPS maintenance backlog, 20% to protect NPS natural
resources, and 20% to protect NPS cultural resources. The Senate bill would terminate the
fund on October 1, 2016. Under the House bill, after that date money in the Centennial Fund
is to be used to supplement annual appropriations for park operations. The bills also would
require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit to Congress biennial reports
on the progress of the NPS in eliminating its deficit in operating funds and the funding needs
of national parks compared with park appropriations, among other issues.
In addition, on May 10, 2005, a Senate subcommittee held a hearing on NPS funding
issues, including the maintenance backlog.
National Parks Conservation Association, The Burgeoning Backlog: A Report on the Maintenance
Backlog in America’s National Parks, May 2004, p. 6, available on the web at
Policy Revisions (by Carol Hardy Vincent)
Background. The NPS currently is revising its service-wide management policies,
which govern the way NPS managers make decisions on a wide range of issues (together
with laws, regulations, and other authorities). Draft management policies have been
controversial. The NPS Management Policies were last updated in 2001 after a several year
internal and external review. (The policies are contained on the NPS website at
Administrative Actions. On October 19, 2005, the NPS published draft
Management Policies (70 Fed. Reg. 60852), with a public comment period through February
18, 2006. The NPS currently is analyzing the comments and considering changes to the
draft. According to an NPS spokesman, policy revisions are being proposed currently to
address recent changes in certain areas, such as recreation and technology. Also, coverage
of financial issues is needed, including on recreation fees, concession royalties, and park
service donations. Further, there is some support in Congress for a review of NPS
management policies, according to the spokesman.
Some park groups and environmentalists have been concerned that changes would
fundamentally alter park protections and potentially lead to damage of park resources. One
much discussed proposed change would require “balance” between conservation and
enjoyment of park resources, whereas current policy states that “conservation is to be
predominant” in conservation/enjoyment conflicts. This controversy illustrates a continuing
tension between the Park Service’s mission to protect park resources while providing for
their use and enjoyment by the public.
The development of policy changes began outside the NPS, with the preparation of draft
changes by a senior DOI official. That earlier, internal proposal was criticized by some park
groups and environmentalists as shifting the NPS focus from preservation to recreation;
removing protective limits on activities that might impair park resources, for instance,
motorized recreation; eliminating the scientific underpinning of NPS management; giving
too much control to local communities in managing park units; weakening protections for
air quality, water, and wildlife; and increasing commercial development of park units.
Further, some observers criticized DOI for initiating changes to NPS policies without
notifying NPS employees and consulting with the public. That initial draft was reported by
the press to have been opposed by the NPS’s seven regional directors. The agency
subsequently convened a working group of 16 senior staff, who produced a new draft. That
draft was to have been reviewed by the National Leadership Council — a group of senior
park managers who set policy and overall direction for the NPS — as well as DOI, before
its publication in the Federal Register, according to an NPS spokesman.
Legislative Activity. On November 1, 2005, a Senate subcommittee held a hearing
on the draft policies. Witnesses expressed differing opinions on issues including the reasons
the policies are being revised; the intent of the 1916 Park Service Organic Act regarding
preservation and recreation; the extent to which the policies should emphasize recreation; the
impact of proposed changes on park protections and the impairment standard; and whether
the draft changes would blur or clarify how park employees are to manage resources.
The NPS Organic Act and its implementation through daily park management were the
subject of a December 14, 2005, House Resources subcommittee hearing. Witnesses offered
different views on the intent of the NPS Organic Act, particularly with regard to preservation,
use, and impairment of NPS resources. Witnesses also presented varying opinions on
whether the existing park management policies, or the proposed policy revisions, more
accurately reflect the letter and intent of the Organic Act. Whether the management policies
should be rewritten, and the proposed changes themselves, also were a matter of much
debate. Some witnesses claimed that the NPS has limited access for recreation in recent
years, in favor of preservation of resources, and suggested alternative approaches. In
addition, at a February 15, 2006, hearing, the subcommittee heard differing views from
Administration and private witnesses as to whether park policies should be changed and
whether the particular changes in the draft would be beneficial or detrimental.
Also with regard to park management, a subcommittee of the House Government
Reform Committee is in the midst of a series of oversight hearings on the role and
management of park units. These hearings, being held throughout the country, are
examining the issues facing the variety of park units in different areas of the country. They
have encompassed diverse issues, including the adequacy of park budgets, backlog in
maintaining NPS facilities, control of invasive species, nature and extent of visitor services,
and protection of park resources. A report summarizing the critical issues discussed, together
with recommendations, is anticipated at the conclusion of the hearings.
Wild and Scenic Rivers (by Sandra L. Johnson)
Background. The NPS manages 28 river units, totaling 2826.3 miles, within the
National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The system was authorized on October 2, 1968,
by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (P.L. 90-542; 16 U.S.C. §§1271-1287). (See
[http://www.nps.gov/rivers/wsract.html].) The act established a policy of preserving
designated free-flowing rivers for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future
generations, to complement the then-current national policy of constructing dams and other
structures along many rivers. The act requires that river units be classified and administered
as wild, scenic, or recreational rivers, based on the condition of the river, the amount of
development in the river or on the shorelines, and the degree of accessibility by road or trail
at the time of designation.
Typically rivers are added to the system by an act of Congress, but they also may be
added by state nomination with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. Congress
initially designated 789 miles of 8 rivers as part of the system. Today there are 164 river
units with 11,357.7 miles in 38 states and Puerto Rico. Congress also enacts legislation to
authorize the study of particular rivers for potential inclusion in the system. The NPS
maintains a national registry of rivers that may be eligible for inclusion in the system — the
Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI); see [http://www.nps.gov/rtca/nri]. Congress may
consider, among other sources, these NRI rivers which are believed to possess “outstandingly
remarkable” values. The Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture are to report to the
President as to the suitability of study areas for wild and scenic designation. The President
then submits his recommendations regarding designation to Congress.
Administrative Actions. Wild and scenic rivers designated by Congress generally
are managed by one of the four federal land management agencies — NPS, FWS, BLM, and
FS. Management varies with the class of the designated river and the values for which it was
included in the system. Components of the system managed by the NPS become a part of
the National Park System. The act requires the managing agency of each component of the
system to prepare a comprehensive management plan to protect river values. The managing
agency also establishes boundaries for each component of the system, within limitations.
Management of lands within river corridors has been controversial in some cases, with
debates over the effect of designation on private lands within the river corridors, the impact
of activities within a corridor on the flow or character of the designated river segment, and
the extent of local input in developing management plans.
State-nominated rivers may be added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
only if the river is designated for protection under state law, is approved by the Secretary of
the Interior, and is permanently administered by a state agency. Management of statenominated rivers may be complicated because of the diversity of land ownership.
Legislative Activity. Measures to designate, study, or extend specific components
of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System are shown in the following table. The table includes
bills that could involve management by the NPS or other agencies. Bills related to the
system more generally will be listed in the “Legislation” section, below.
Upper White Salmon Wild and Scenic Rivers
Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage
Wilderness Act (Black Butte River segments)
Alaska Rainforest Conservation Act (designate
and study rivers within the Chugach National
Forest and designate rivers within the Tongass
Rockies Prosperity Act (Title IV, to designate
certain National Forest System watercourses in
ID, MT, and WY)
Musconetcong Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook
Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2005
Taunton Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (MA)
Perquimans River Wild and Scenic River Study
Act of 2005
California Wild Heritage Act of 2006 (designate
22 river segments; study Carson River, East
Mt. Hood Stewardship Legacy Act (designate
waterways in the Mt. Hood National Forest)
Eastern Sierra Rural Heritage and Economic
Enhancement Act (designate segments of the
Amargosa River in CA)
The Senate passed two wild and scenic river bills on December 16, 2005. S. 435 would
direct the NPS to study a 40-mile stretch of the Farmington River and Salmon Brook (CT)
for possible inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System. As a result of reduced
funding for the Rivers and Trails Studies program for FY2006, the NPS had requested that
the date for submitting the study be changed from not later than three years following
enactment to not later than three years after funds are made available. This change is
included in the Senate-passed bill. Some river proponents objected to the delay in the start
of the study. S. 1096, the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, would designate 24.2
miles of the river in northwestern New Jersey. A House panel held a hearing on a companion
bill (H.R. 1307) on November 10, 2005. In earlier action, the Senate also passed S. 128, to
designate segments of the Black Butte River (CA) as a wild or scenic river, and H.R. 38 was
enacted (P.L 109-44) to designate a portion of the White Salmon River (WA) as a component
of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Competitive Sourcing. (by Carol Hardy Vincent) The Bush Administration’s
Competitive Sourcing Initiative seeks to expand on earlier programs to subject federal
agency activities judged to be commercial in nature to public-private competition. The
Administration’s goal is to save money through competition. For the NPS, areas of focus
include maintenance, administration, and cultural resource positions. Rangers, fee collectors,
and park guides are among those positions classified as either “inherently governmental” or
“core to the mission,” and thus not subject to competitive review. Concerns include whether
the initiative would save the agency money, whether it is being used to accomplish policy
objectives by outsourcing particular functions, whether it would weaken the morale and
diversity of the NPS workforce, and whether the private sector could provide the same
quality of service. The NPS has long contracted many jobs to private industry. (For
information on competitive sourcing generally, see CRS Report RL32017, Circular A-76
Revision 2003: Selected Issues, by L. Elaine Halchin.)
The NPS competitive sourcing “green plan” covers competitive sourcing activities
planned for FY2005-FY2008. In FY2006, the NPS plans to conduct a preliminary planning
effort for 150 FTEs,6 four standard studies for 549.5 FTEs, and six streamlined studies for
255.5 FTEs, for a total of 955 FTEs during FY2006. For FY2007, the agency expects to
A full-time equivalent (FTE) is the “staffing of Federal civilian employee positions, expressed in
terms of annual productive work hours” (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Circular No. A-76
(Revised), p. D-5).
review about 700 FTEs and subsequently to implement related efficiencies. (For information
on competitive sourcing targets, see CRS Report RL32079, Federal Contracting of
Commercial Activities: Competitive Sourcing Targets, by L. Elaine Halchin.)
P.L. 109-54 placed a cap of $3.45 million on DOI competitive sourcing studies during
FY2006, but did not specify the portion to be allocated to the NPS. The law also provided
that agencies include, in any reports to the Appropriations Committees on competitive
sourcing, information on costs associated with sourcing studies and related activities. These
provisions originated out of concern that some agencies were spending significant sums on
competitive sourcing where the Administration did not request or receive funds for this
purpose, and were not providing Congress with complete information on costs and
implications. P.L. 109-115 restricts competitive sourcing government-wide.
Regional Haze. (by Ross W. Gorte) In 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act,
Congress established a national goal of protecting Class I areas — most then-existing
national parks and wilderness areas — from future visibility impairment and remedying any
existing impairment resulting from manmade air pollution. (Newly designated parks and
wilderness areas can be classified as Class I only by state actions.) The program to control
this “regional haze” has several facets, including the development of state implementation
plans and the imposition of Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) on large sources of
air pollution built between 1962 and 1977. (For a general description of the regional haze
program, see CRS Report RL32483, Visibility, Regional Haze, and the Clean Air Act: Status
of Implementation, by Larry Parker and John Blodgett). A related program, Prevention of
Significant Deterioration, provides that permits may not be issued to major new facilities
within 100 kilometers of a Class I area if federal land managers, such as at the NPS, allege
that the facilities’ emissions “may cause or contribute to a change in the air quality” in a
Class I area (42 U.S.C. §7457).
In 2002, President Bush proposed the Clear Skies Act to amend the Clean Air Act,
including a provision to significantly reduce the geographic area under the authority of
federal land managers for the siting of power plants. The Clear Skies Act of 2005 (S. 131)
was reintroduced in the 109th Congress with a provision reducing the area over which federal
land managers may prevent the permitting of new power plants to within 50 kilometers of
a Class I park or wilderness area. The Clear Skies Act also would provide a mechanism for
existing facilities to avoid imposition of BART by complying with new statutory standards
delineated in the bill. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a
markup on the bill on March 9, 2005, but the bill was not reported (9-9).
Security. (by Carol Hardy Vincent) Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
on the United States, the NPS has sought to enhance its ability to prepare for and respond to
threats from terrorists and others. Activities have focused on security enhancements at
national icons and along the U.S. borders, where several parks are located. The United States
Park Police (USPP) have sought to expand physical security assessments of monuments,
memorials, and other facilities, and increase patrols and security precautions in Washington
monumental areas, at the Statue of Liberty, and at other potentially vulnerable icons. Other
activities have included implementing additional training in terrorism response for agency
personnel, and reducing the backlog of needed specialized equipment and vehicles. NPS law
enforcement rangers and special agents have expanded patrols, use of electronic monitoring
equipment, intelligence monitoring, and training in preemptive and response measures. The
NPS has taken measures to increase security and protection along international borders and
to curb illegal immigration and drug traffic through park borders.
A June 2005 report of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined the
challenges for DOI in protecting national icons and monuments from terrorism, and actions
and improvements the department has taken in response. GAO concluded that since 2001,
DOI has improved security at key sites, created a central security office to coordinate security
efforts, developed physical security plans, and established a uniform risk management and
ranking methodology. GAO recommended that DOI link its rankings to security funding
priorities at national icons and monuments and establish guiding principles to balance its
core mission with security needs. (See [http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05790.pdf].)
At a July 9, 2005, House subcommittee hearing, witnesses differed on the extent to
which the NPS should be responsible for border security. (See [http://resourcescommittee.
house.gov/archives/109/nprpl/070905.htm].) An NPS official testified that the agency’s core
mission makes it “imperative” that the agency help secure international borders of parks and
“aggressively” address border issues. He asserted that cross-border, illegal immigration, and
smuggling activities threaten the park mission, natural and historic resources, safety of
visitors and employees, and national security. An official from the Border Patrol described
cooperative border efforts with the NPS. Other witnesses testified that the Border Patrol
should handle immigration and other border issues, because the NPS lacks sufficient
resources, training, and equipment. A representative from the National Parks Conservation
Association contended that the financial impact of homeland security and border measures
has had an adverse impact at park units, and that the NPS has been “woefully underfunded”
to meet border and homeland security demands. However, in separate testimony, NPS
Director Fran Mainella stated that since 2001, overall base funding for NPS law enforcement
and security has increased 25%.
House and Senate bills pertaining to immigration reform and border security contain
provisions affecting national park units along U.S. borders. For example, as passed by the
House, H.R. 4437 would require an evaluation of security vulnerabilities on DOI lands along
U.S. borders and would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide border
security assistance on these lands. S. 2611, S. 2612, and S. 2454 — which has been
considered by the Senate — call for a study of the construction of physical barriers along the
southern border of the United States, including their effect on park units along the borders.
Among other provisions, S. 2611 and S. 2612 also would increase customs and border
protection personnel to secure park units (and other federal land) along U.S. borders; provide
surveillance camera systems, sensors, and other equipment on DOI lands; and require the
submission to Congress of a recommendation for the NPS to recover costs related to illegal
Congress appropriates funds to the NPS for security efforts, and the adequacy and use
of funds to protect NPS visitors and units are of continuing interest. Funds for security are
appropriated through multiple line items, including those for the USPP and Law Enforcement
and Protection. For FY2007, the President requested $84.8 million for the USPP, a 6%
increase over FY2006 ($80.2 million). The President also requested $128.2 million for law
enforcement, a 3% increase over FY2006 ($124.2 million).
H.R. 1124 (Souder); S. 886 (McCain)
Establish the National Park Centennial Fund in the Treasury, comprised of monies
designated by taxpayers on their tax returns and possibly supplemented by monies from the
General Fund of the Treasury. The money is available, without further appropriation, for
eliminating the maintenance backlog of the NPS, and for other purposes. H.R. 1124
introduced March 3, 2005; referred to Committee on Resources and also Committee on Ways
and Means. S. 886 introduced April 21, 2005; referred to Committee on Finance.
H.R. 3446 (Rahall); S. 1378 (Talent)
The National Historic Preservation Act Amendments Act of 2005 would reauthorize the
Historic Preservation Fund through FY2011 and amend the operation of the Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation. S. 1378 reported by the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources, April 20, 2006. H.R. 3446 introduced July 26, 2005; referred to Committee on
S. 131 (Inhofe)
The Clear Skies Act of 2005 would, in part, reduce the area (to a 50-kilometer radius)
requiring federal land manager approval for siting new power plants. Committee on
Environment and Public Works held a markup on March 9, 2005, but the bill was not
FOR ADDITIONAL READING
Current and Historical Background
CRS Issue Brief IB10076, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands and National Forests,
coordinated by Ross W. Gorte and Carol Hardy Vincent.
CRS Report RL32393, Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and
Resources Management, coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent.
CRS Report RL32667, Federal Management and Protection of Paleontological (Fossil)
Resources Located on Federal Lands: Current Status and Legal Issues, by Douglas
CRS Issue Brief IB10126, Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues, by
Carol Hardy Vincent and David Whiteman.
CRS Report 96-123, Historic Preservation: Background and Funding, by Susan Boren.
CRS Report RL33399, Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies:
Appropriations, coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent and Susan Boren.
CRS Report RS21503, Land and Water Conservation Fund: Current Status and Issues, by
Jeffrey A. Zinn.
CRS Report RS20902, National Monument Issues, by Carol Hardy Vincent.
CRS Report RS20158, National Park System: Establishing New Units, by Carol Hardy
CRS Report RL32699, Natural Resources: Selected Issues for the 109th Congress,
coordinated by Nicole Carter and Carol Hardy Vincent.
CRS Issue Brief IB10141, Recreation on Federal Lands, coordinated by Kori Calvert and
Carol Hardy Vincent.
CRS Report RL31149, Snowmobiles: Environmental Standards and Access to National
Parks, by James E. McCarthy.
CRS Report RS20702, South Florida Ecosystem Restoration and the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Plan, by Pervaze A. Sheikh and Nicole T. Carter.
CRS Report RL32483, Visibility, Regional Haze, and the Clean Air Act: Status of
Implementation, by Larry Parker and John Blodgett.
CRS Report RL31447, Wilderness: Overview and Statistics, by Ross W. Gorte.