National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations

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Updated January 26, 2021
National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations
The National Park Service (NPS) administers the National
fiscal year, several continuing resolutions provided funding
Park System, which includes 423 units valued for their
at FY2020 levels before enactment of P.L. 116-260.
natural, cultural, and recreational importance. System lands
cover 81 million federal acres and 4 million nonfederal
NPS also receives mandatory appropriations. NPS’s budget
acres. As part of the Department of the Interior, NPS
justification estimated $0.749 billion in mandatory
receives funding in annual appropriations laws for Interior,
appropriations for FY2021, a 1% increase over estimated
Environment, and Related Agencies. Selected issues for
NPS mandatory funding for FY2020. These mandatory
Congress include the total level of NPS appropriations,
appropriations come from entrance and recreation fees,
funding to address NPS’s backlog of deferred maintenance
concessioner fees, donations, and other sources. In August
(DM), and funds for NPS assistance to nonfederal entities.
2020, the GAOA established additional mandatory
FY2021 Appropriations
spending for NPS, including a fund to address agency DM
needs. The GAOA also designated as mandatory spending
The Trump Administration requested $2.793 billion in
agency funding from the Land and Water Conservation
FY2021 discretionary appropriations for NPS. This amount
Fund (LWCF; 54 U.S.C. §200301), previously provided
was 17% less than NPS’s FY2020 appropriation of $3.377
through discretionary appropriations.
billion, enacted in P.L. 116-94. The request included
reductions for all NPS accounts as compared with FY2020.
NPS’s Appropriations Accounts
NPS has six discretionary appropriations accounts.
P.L. 116-260, enacted on December 27, 2020, contained
However, in FY2021, one account—Land Acquisition and
$3.123 billion for NPS, 8% less than the FY2020 regular
State Assistance—did not receive discretionary
appropriation and 12% more than requested by the
appropriations (Figure 1).
Administration. The law included increases for some NPS
accounts compared with FY2020 appropriations in P.L.
The majority of NPS discretionary appropriations typically
116-94 (Table 1) but decreased or eliminated funding for
have gone to the Operation of the National Park System
two accounts, both covering activities that received
(ONPS) account to support day-to-day activities, programs,
mandatory appropriations in the Great American Outdoors
and services at park units. These include resource
Act (GAOA; P.L. 116-152), enacted in August 2020.
stewardship, visitor services, park protection, facility
operations and maintenance, and administrative costs.
In earlier action, on July 14, 2020, the House Committee on
Appropriations had reported H.R. 7612 (H.Rept. 116-448),
NPS’s Construction account covers rehabilitation and
with $3.224 billion for NPS for FY2021. On July 24, 2020,
replacement of existing facilities as well as new
the House passed H.R. 7608, a consolidated bill with the
construction. NPS prioritizes DM in project planning.
same amount for NPS. On November 10, 2020, the Senate
Projects are evaluated based on department-wide criteria
Committee on Appropriations released a draft bill with
related to the condition of assets and their importance to the
$3.122 billion for NPS for FY2021. Because regular
park’s purposes. The account also covers other construction
FY2021 appropriations were not enacted by the start of the
activities and planning.
Table 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations by Account ($ in millions)
FY2020 Enacted
FY2021
House-Passed
Senate Comm.
% Change
Account
(P.L. 116-94)
Request
H.R. 7608
Draft
P.L. 116-260 FY2020-FY2021
Operation of the Nat’l. Park System
2,577.0
2,516.7
2,776.6
2,648.6
2,688.3
+4%
Construction
389.3
192.6
223.9
249.0
223.9
-42%
Land Acquisition and State Assistance
206.1
8.6
-2.0a
-2.0a
-23.0a
-111%
Historic Preservation Fund
118.7
40.7
136.4
138.0
144.3
+22%
Nat’l. Recreation and Preservation
71.2
33.9
74.3
74.0
74.2
+4%
Centennial Chal enge
15.0
0
15.0
15.0
15.0

Total
3,377.3
2,792.6
3,224.3
3,122.3
3,122.7
-8%
Sources: Data from House Committee on Appropriations and NPS FY2021 budget request. Totals may not sum precisely due to rounding.
a.
For the Land Acquisition and State Assistance account, the legislation provides no new funding and contains a rescission. In past years, this
account has been supported by funding from the LWCF, which was made mandatory spending by the GAOA (see above).
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National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations
Figure 1. NPS Appropriations Accounts,
from the LWCF, the primary funding source for the federal
FY2020 and FY2021
land management agencies to acquire lands. The account
has covered NPS’s own acquisitions—typically nonfederal
“inholdings” inside the boundaries of national park units—
and NPS grants to states for outdoor recreation needs. In
August 2020, the GAOA made all funding from the LWCF
mandatory spending. The discretionary account received no
funding for FY2021 and had a $23.0 million rescission.
Issues for Congress
Deferred Maintenance

NPS’s backlog of DM, estimated at $11.920 billion as of
the end of FY2018 (the most recent year reported), has been
a significant issue in the appropriations process. Despite
legislation and agency actions aimed at addressing the
backlog, it has increased over the past decade. NPS funding
to address DM comes from multiple sources and includes
both discretionary and mandatory spending. Two
appropriations sub-activities (Line-Item Construction and
Maintenance in the Construction account and Repair and
Rehabilitation in the ONPS account) have been sources of
funding for NPS DM. For FY2021, P.L. 116-260 provided
$267.8 million for these two budget sub-activities. In
FY2020, P.L. 116-94 had provided $418.9 million. Portions
of other NPS discretionary budget activities also are used
for DM. In addition, allocations from the Highway Trust
Fund support NPS road repair and improvements. Other
sources, such as recreation fees, also have been used.

Sources: Joint explanatory statements, P.L. 116-260 and P.L. 116-94.
The GAOA (P.L. 116-152), enacted in August 2020,
Notes: ONPS = Operation of the National Park System. NR&P =
provided a significant source of new mandatory funding for
National Recreation & Preservation. Figures do not show rescissions.
NPS DM. To address DM of five agencies, the GAOA
established a fund receiving deposits of certain federal
NPS administers historic preservation programs through its
energy revenues over five years, up to a cap of $1.9 billion
Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) account. Under the
annually. NPS receives 70% of the funding. NPS must
National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S.C. §300101),
submit lists of priority DM projects to Congress with
the fund receives $150 million annually from offshore
annual budget justifications. Appropriators may specify
energy revenues, but monies are available only as provided
alternate allocations for the funding. For FY2021, the
in appropriations acts. Most of the funding goes to state and
maximum was deposited and was allocated by Congress in
tribal historic preservation offices as formula grants to
the joint explanatory statement for P.L. 116-260. For more
preserve cultural and historical assets and sites. Congress
information, see CRS In Focus IF11636, The Great
also has made available some funding for nationally
American Outdoors Act, P.L. 116-152; and CRS Report
competitive grant programs.
R44924, National Park Service Deferred Maintenance:
Frequently Asked Questions
.
The National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P) account
funds NPS programs that assist state, local, tribal, and
NPS Assistance to Nonfederal Sites and Programs
private land managers with grants for outdoor recreation
Some Members, along with the Trump and Obama
planning, natural and cultural resource preservation, and
Administrations, have questioned whether NPS assistance
other activities. The largest single program funded through
to nonfederal sites and programs should be reduced to focus
the account is NPS assistance to national heritage areas.
funding on NPS’s “core” mission of managing national
parks. Two NPS accounts (NR&P and HPF) fund such
The Centennial Challenge account supports the National
nonfederal assistance; they represented less than 10% of
Park Centennial Challenge Fund. Authorized by Congress
total NPS funding in FY2021. Funding for both accounts
in 2016 (54 U.S.C. §103501), the fund provides matching
rose compared with FY2020. The Administration had
grants to spur partner donations for projects or programs
proposed reductions and the elimination of some types of
that further the NPS mission and enhance the visitor
assistance, including NPS grants to national heritage areas,
experience. DM is prioritized. The fund also receives
which are nonfederally managed. The FY2021 budget
offsetting collections from the sale of senior passes under
justification encouraged heritage area managers to seek
the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (16
sustainable funding from local and private beneficiaries.
U.S.C. §6801).
In past years, NPS’s
Laura B. Comay, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Land Acquisition and State Assistance
(LASA) account consisted of discretionary appropriations
IF11661
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National Park Service: FY2021 Appropriations


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