National Park Service Appropriations: Ten-Year Trends




National Park Service Appropriations:
Ten-Year Trends

Updated December 9, 2020
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
R42757




National Park Service Appropriations: Ten-Year Trends

Summary
The National Park Service (NPS) general y receives appropriations in the annual Interior,
Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bil . Over the past decade (FY2011-FY2020),
NPS received both regular (annual) appropriations and, in some years, supplemental
appropriations to address damage from natural disasters. The agency also has mandatory sources
of funding. NPS’s regular appropriations declined in the early part of the decade and increased
thereafter, in both nominal and inflation-adjusted dollars. The FY2020 regular appropriation was
29% higher than FY2011 in nominal dollars and 11% higher in inflation-adjusted dollars. NPS
also received supplemental appropriations for response to damage from hurricanes and other
natural disasters in FY2013 (P.L. 113-2), FY2018 (P.L. 115-123), and FY2019 (P.L. 116-20).
These funds were provided outside of regular appropriations laws and were not subject to
discretionary spending caps.
During this period, NPS’s discretionary appropriations general y were organized in six accounts.
Appropriations fluctuated over the decade for al the accounts. Five accounts received more
funding in FY2020 than FY2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars. These included accounts that fund
construction and major repairs, federal land acquisition and outdoor recreation assistance to
states, grants to states and tribes for historic preservation activities, assistance to nonfederal
entities for natural and cultural resource preservation, and grants to spur partner donations for
park improvements. One account—NPS’s largest, which funds basic park operations—received
less funding in FY2020 than FY2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
A significant issue for NPS throughout the decade was the agency’s multibil ion-dollar backlog of
deferred maintenance (i.e., infrastructure maintenance and repairs that were not performed as
scheduled or as needed). Combined funding for two budget activities that primarily address the
backlog (within larger budget accounts) grew in inflation-adjusted terms over the decade. In
addition, enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act (P.L. 116-152) in August 2020 provided
a new source of mandatory spending to address NPS deferred maintenance.
The funding changes took place in the context of relative stability in the size of the National Park
System, which was about 85 mil ion acres throughout the decade, with a total growth of 1% from
the beginning to the end of the period. The system consists of roughly 81 mil ion acres of federal
land, with the remainder nonfederal. Although system acreage remained relatively stable, 29 new
units—many of relatively smal size—were added to the system during the decade. NPS staffing
levels declined by 16% over the decade. Visits to the parks general y increased over the 10-year
period, peaking at approximately 331 mil ion visits in 2016. However, visits to date in 2020 are
lower than the previous year, especial y for months during which the nation was affected by the
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
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Contents
NPS Discretionary Appropriations Totals ............................................................................ 1
Individual NPS Accounts ................................................................................................. 3
Operation of the National Park System Account ............................................................. 5
Construction Account ................................................................................................. 7
Land Acquisition and State Assistance .......................................................................... 8
Historic Preservation Fund .......................................................................................... 9
National Recreation and Preservation Account ............................................................. 10
Centennial Challenge ............................................................................................... 11
NPS Appropriations in Context ....................................................................................... 12
Size of the National Park System ............................................................................... 13
Visits to the National Parks ....................................................................................... 14
National Park Service Staffing ................................................................................... 15
Concluding Summary .................................................................................................... 17

Figures
Figure 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations, FY2011-FY2020 .............................................. 1
Figure 2. NPS’s FY2020 Discretionary Appropriations by Account......................................... 3
Figure 3. Appropriations for NPS’s Operation of the National Park System (ONPS)
Account, FY2011-FY2020............................................................................................. 5
Figure 4. Appropriations for Two NPS Budget Activities That Primarily Address
Deferred Maintenance, FY2011-FY2020.......................................................................... 6
Figure 5. Appropriations for NPS’s Construction Account, FY2011-FY2020............................ 7
Figure 6. Appropriations for NPS’s Land Acquisition and State Assistance (LASA)
Account, FY2011-FY2020............................................................................................. 9
Figure 7. Appropriations for NPS’s Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) Account, FY2011-
FY2020 .................................................................................................................... 10
Figure 8. Appropriations for NPS’s National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P)
Account, FY2011-FY2020........................................................................................... 11
Figure 9. Appropriations for NPS’s Centennial Challenge Account, FY2011-FY2020 .............. 12
Figure 10. Size of the National Park System, FY2011-FY2020............................................. 13
Figure 11. Annual Recreational Visits to the National Park System, 2011-2020 ....................... 15
Figure 12. NPS Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Staff, FY2011-FY2020..................................... 16

Tables
Table 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations, FY2011-FY2020 ................................................ 2
Table 2. NPS Appropriations by Account, FY2011-FY2020 ................................................... 4
Table 3. Size of the National Park System, FY2011-FY2020................................................ 14
Table 4. Annual Recreational Visits to the National Park System, 2011-2020 .......................... 15
Table 5. NPS Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Staff, FY2011-FY2020........................................ 16
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Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 18

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he National Park Service (NPS) administers the National Park System, which covers
85 mil ion acres of land and consists of 422 diverse units included for their natural,
T cultural, and recreational importance. NPS generaly receives appropriations in the annual
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bil . This report examines trends in
the agency’s discretionary appropriations over the past decade (FY2011-FY2020) and related
issues and congressional actions. It also discusses changes in the size of the National Park
System, numbers of recreational visits to the parks, and NPS staffing levels during that period.
NPS Discretionary Appropriations Totals
NPS’s discretionary appropriations fluctuated during the past decade (FY2011-FY2020). Regular
discretionary appropriations (which exclude supplemental appropriations) totaled $2.611 bil ion
in FY2011 and $3.377 bil ion in FY2020. The FY2020 figure was 29% higher than FY2011 in
nominal dollars and 11% higher when adjusted for inflation. In both nominal and inflation-
adjusted dollars, the general trend was an annual decline in regular appropriations between
FY2011 and FY2013, and increases thereafter (Figure 1 and Table 1). NPS received
supplemental appropriations for response to natural disasters in FY2013 (P.L. 113-2), FY2018
(P.L. 115-123), and FY2019 (P.L. 116-20). These funds were provided outside of regular
appropriations laws and were not subject to discretionary spending caps.1
Figure 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations, FY2011-FY2020
($ bil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.

1 T he figures and tables in this report generally reflect rescissions and supplemental appropriations to date, including
from P.L. 113-2 in response to Hurricane Sandy (FY2013), P.L. 115-123 in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and
Maria (FY2018), and P.L. 116-20 in response to Hurricanes Florence and Michael, T yphoons Yutu and Mangkhut, and
other natural disasters (FY2019). Amounts for FY2013 also reflect the 2013 budget sequestration and an across-the-
board rescission of 0.2%. T he data exclude permanent budget authorities and generally do not reflect scorekeeping
adjustments. Adjustments for inflation (shown in 2011 dollars) use the GDP Chained Price Index from the White
House Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables, T able 10.1, “ Gross Domestic Product and Deflators Used
in the Historical T ables—1940-2023,” at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals.
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Mandatory Appropriations in the National Park Service’s Budget
Most of NPS’s funding comes from discretionary appropriations, which are control ed by annual appropriations
laws. However, NPS also receives mandatory appropriations under various laws, which al ow the agency to spend
money without further action by Congress. Altogether, for FY2020, NPS estimated mandatory spending of $0.741
bil ion, while the agency’s discretionary appropriations for FY2020 were $3.377 bil ion. Based on the NPS
estimates, mandatory appropriations would constitute approximately 18% of NPS’s total FY2020 budget.
NPS’s mandatory appropriations include recreation fees, concession franchise fees, receipts from leasing, and
direct cash donations, among others. In August 2020, P.L. 116-152, the Great American Outdoors Act, provided a
new source of mandatory appropriations for NPS for five years, FY2021-FY2025. The law established the National
Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund to address deferred maintenance of five agencies. The fund
consists of certain federal revenues from conventional and renewable energy development, and it is capped at $1.9
bil ion annual y. NPS is to receive 70% of the available funding to address its deferred maintenance backlog, which
was estimated at $11.92 bil ion for FY2018. Because future energy revenues are unknown, it is uncertain how
much money wil be generated for NPS during the fund’s lifetime. In using the mandatory funding, NPS must
submit lists of priority deferred maintenance projects to Congress with annual budget justifications, and
appropriations acts may specify alternate al ocations. For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11636, The Great
American Outdoors Act, P.L. 116-152
.
Table 1. NPS Discretionary Appropriations, FY2011-FY2020
($ bil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars; includes supplemental appropriations)
Appropriation in
Appropriation in
% Change Since Previous Year

Nominal $
Inflation-Adjusted 2011 $
Nominal
Inflation-Adjusted
FY2011
2.611
2.611


FY2012
2.580
2.532
-1%
-3%
FY2013
2.775a
2.674
+8%a
+6%
FY2014
2.562
2.422
-8%a
-9%
FY2015
2.616
2.446
+2%
+1%
FY2016
2.852
2.643
+9%
+8%
FY2017
2.932
2.669
+3%
+1%
FY2018
3.460b
3.078
+18%b
+15%
FY2019
3.351c
2.924
-3%b,c
-5%
FY2020
3.377
2.890
+1%c
-1%
Change Over
+0.766
+0.279
+29%
+11%
Decade
Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: Figures include supplemental appropriations. See footnote 1 for additional information on this table.
a. The FY2013 total of $2.775 bil ion includes regular appropriations of $2.398 bil ion and supplemental
appropriations of $0.377 bil ion. Excluding the supplemental, the regular appropriation for FY2013
represents a 7% decrease from the FY2012 amount in nominal dol ars. Also, excluding the supplemental, the
FY2014 appropriation is a 7% increase over FY2013 in nominal dol ars.
b. The FY2018 total of $3.460 bil ion includes regular appropriations of $3.202 bil ion and supplemental
appropriations of $0.258 bil ion. Excluding the supplemental, the regular appropriation for FY2018
represents a 9% increase over FY2017 in nominal dol ars. Excluding supplementals for both FY2018 and
FY2019, the FY2019 appropriation is a 1% increase over FY2018 in nominal dol ars.
c. The FY2019 total of $3.351 bil ion includes regular appropriations of $3.222 bil ion and supplemental
appropriations of $0.128 bil ion. Excluding supplementals for both FY2018 and FY2019, the FY2019
appropriation is a 1% increase over FY2018 in nominal dol ars. Also, excluding supplementals, the
appropriation for FY2020 is a 5% increase over FY2019 in nominal dol ars.
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Individual NPS Accounts
During the decade, NPS’s appropriations were primarily organized in six accounts that cover
basic park operations (Operation of the National Park System, or ONPS, account); construction
and repair of infrastructure (Construction account); land acquisition by both NPS and the states
(Land Acquisition and State Assistance account);2 grants to states and localities for historic
preservation (Historic Preservation Fund); assistance to state, local, tribal, and private land
managers (National Recreation and Preservation account); and matching grants primarily to
address the high backlog of deferred maintenance on NPS infrastructure (Centennial Chal enge
account).3 By far the largest share of NPS’s discretionary appropriations—76% in FY2020—went
to the ONPS account, which covers basic park operations (Figure 2 and Table 2).
Figure 2. NPS’s FY2020 Discretionary Appropriations by Account

Source: Joint explanatory statement for P.L. 116-94.
Notes: ONPS = Operation of the National Park Service; NR&P = National Recreation and Preservation; HPF =
Historic Preservation Fund; LASA = Land Acquisition and State Assistance. These data exclude permanent
budget authorities and general y do not reflect scorekeeping adjustments. Figures are in nominal dol ars.
Percentages may not sum precisely due to rounding.



2 T he Land Acquisition and State Assistance account constitutes NPS’s portion of appropriations from the Land and
Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). T he LWCF is the principal source of funding for four federal land management
agencies—NPS, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service —to
acquire lands. In addition, the LWCF funds grants to states for outdoor recreation purposes, which are administered by
NPS. During the decade covered by this report, LWCF funding was provided through the annual appropriations
process, but in August 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act ( P.L. 116-152) designated all funding from the LWCF
as mandatory spending. For more information on the LWCF, see CRS Report RL33531, Land and Water Conservation
Fund: Overview, Funding History, and Issues
, by Carol Hardy Vincent . On the Great American Outdoors Act, see CRS
In Focus IF11636, The Great Am erican Outdoors Act, P.L. 116 -152, by Carol Hardy Vincent, Laura B. Comay, and
Bill Heniff Jr.
3 T he backlog was estimated at $11.92 billion for FY2018, the most recent year available. For more information, see
CRS Report R44924, National Park Service Deferred Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions, by Laura B. Comay.
T he Centennial Challenge account was funded in FY2010 (under the title “ Park Partnership Grants”) and each fiscal
year since FY2015.
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Table 2. NPS Appropriations by Account, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal dol ars and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

ONPS
Construction
LASA
HPF
NR&P
CC
Totala
FY2011
2,250.050
184.646
94.810
54.391
57.245

2,611.142
FY2012
2,236.568
155.366
101.897
55.910
59.879

2,579.620
Inflation-Adjusted
2,194.968
152.476
100.002
54.870
58.765
2,531.639
FY2013
2,097.261
453.885b
96.567
100.486b
56.747

2,774.946b
Inflation-Adjusted
2,021.064
437.395
93.059
96.835
54.685
2,674.128
FY2014
2,236.753
137.461
98.100
56.410
60.795

2,561.519
Inflation-Adjusted
2,114.787
129.966
92.751
53.334
57.480
2,421.845
FY2015
2,277.485
138.339
98.960
56.410
63.117
10.000
2,616.501
Inflation-Adjusted
2,128.689
129.301
92.495
52.725
58.993
9.347
2,445.527
FY2016
2,370.724
192.937
173.670
65.410
62.632
15.000
2,852.413
Inflation-Adjusted
2,196.383
178.749
160.899
60.600
58.026
13.897
2,642.649
FY2017
2,425.126
209.353
162.029
80.910
62.638
20.000
2,932.120
Inflation-Adjusted
2,207.605
190.575
147.496
73.653
57.020
18.206
2,669.124
FY2018
2,477.969
567.304c
180.941
146.910c
63.638
23.000
3,459.762c
Inflation-Adjusted
2,204.386
504.670
160.964
130.690
56.612
20.461
3,077.783
FY2019
2,502.711
442.704d
168.444
152.660d
64.138
20.000
3,350.657d
Inflation-Adjusted
2,184.030
386.333
146.995
133.221
55.971
17.453
2,924.004
FY2020
2,576.992
389.345
206.121
118.660
71.166
15.000
3,377.284
Inflation-Adjusted
2,205.319
333.191
176.393
101.546
60.902
12.837
2,890.187
Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: ONPS = Operation of the National Park System account; NR&P = National Recreation and Preservation
account; HPF = Historic Preservation Fund account; LASA = Land Acquisition and State Assistance account;
CC = Centennial Chal enge account. Data include supplemental appropriations. See footnote 1 for additional
information on this table.
a. Totals reflect annual rescissions of LWCF contract authority of $30.0 mil ion for FY2005-FY2013 and $28.0
mil ion for FY2014-FY2017. Because these rescissions are not included in the amounts for individual
accounts, the figures for the individual accounts do not add up to the totals shown. Congress did not enact
the rescissions in FY2018-FY2020 appropriations.
b. The FY2013 total of $2.775 bil ion includes regular appropriations of $2.398 bil ion and supplemental
appropriations of $377.3 mil ion (after sequestration). Supplemental FY2013 appropriations for specific
accounts (after sequestration) were $329.8 mil ion for Construction and $47.5 mil ion for HPF. See NPS
budget justification for FY2015, with FY2013 final appropriations totals, at https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/
upload/FY-2015-Greenbook-Linked.pdf.
c. The FY2018 total of $3.460 bil ion includes regular appropriations of $3.202 bil ion and supplemental
appropriations of $257.6 mil ion. Supplemental FY2018 appropriations for specific accounts were $207.6
mil ion for Construction and $50.0 mil ion for HPF.
d. The FY2019 total of $3.351 bil ion includes regular appropriations of $3.223 bil ion and supplemental
appropriations of $128.0 mil ion. Supplemental FY2019 appropriations for specific accounts were
$78.0 mil ion for Construction and $50.0 mil ion for HPF.


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National Park Service Appropriations: Ten-Year Trends

Operation of the National Park System Account
Appropriations for the largest NPS account, entitled Operation of the National Park System
(ONPS), support the activities, programs, and services that form the day-to-day operations of the
National Park System. ONPS funding was $2.250 bil ion in FY2011 and increased to $2.577
bil ion in nominal dollars in FY2020 (see Table 2 and Figure 3). When adjusted for inflation,
however, this represents a decrease of 2%. As a percentage of total NPS appropriations, the
ONPS share decreased over the decade from 86% of total funding in FY2011 to 76% in FY2019.
The ONPS account was not affected by supplemental appropriations during the decade.
Figure 3. Appropriations for NPS’s Operation of the National Park System (ONPS)
Account, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
The majority of ONPS funds are provided directly to individual park units. Activities under the
account include resource stewardship, visitor services, park protection (including the U.S. Park
Police), facility operations and maintenance, park support, and “external administrative costs” for
services provided by outside entities.4 Among these activities, funding for three activities
(resource stewardship, visitor services, and park protection) decreased over the decade in
inflation-adjusted dollars, whereas funding for two activities (facility operations and maintenance,
and park support) grew in inflation-adjusted dollars. Funding for external administrative costs
was nearly even in FY2020 as compared with FY2011, when adjusted for inflation.5


4 T he park support activity includes administering, managing, and supporting the operations of park units. External
adm inistrative costs
include employee compensation payments, unemployment compensation payments, centralized
information technology costs, telecommunications, postage, space rental from the General Services Administration, and
departmental program charges.
5 T hese calculations use amounts from annual House Appropriations Committee detailed tables for NPS. In inflation-
adjusted dollars, the percentage decreases in funding over the decade were as follows: resource stewardship, -12%;
visitor services, -8%; park protection, -13%; external administrative costs, minus less than 1%. T he increases in
inflation-adjusted dollars were as follows: facility operations and maintenance, +7%; park support, +3%.
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NPS Infrastructure: Funding for Deferred Maintenance
NPS’s substantial backlog of deferred maintenance (DM)—infrastructure maintenance and repairs that were not
performed as scheduled or as needed—has been an ongoing concern for Congress. The backlog grew in nominal
dol ars from an estimated mid-range figure of $11.04 bil ion in FY2011 to an estimated $11.92 bil ion in FY2018,
the most recent year for which NPS estimates are available. This is a growth of 8%, but in inflation-adjusted terms,
the estimated backlog shrank by 9% during this period.6 The bulk of the DM needs (52% in FY2018) are in
transportation assets such as paved roads, bridges, and tunnels.
Discretionary appropriations provide a significant portion of the agency’s funding to address DM, and funding also
comes from other sources. For example, road and bridge improvements are partly funded by al ocations from the
Department of Transportation; and under the Great American Outdoors Act (P.L. 116-152), the National Parks
and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund wil provide varying amounts of mandatory funding for NPS DM for
FY2021-FY2025. Within NPS’s discretionary appropriations, two budget activities provide the primary support to
address DM: the line-item construction and maintenance activity within the Construction account and the repair and
rehabilitation
subactivity within the Operation of the National Park System account. Funding for these two budget
activities combined (Figure 4) rose by 52% in inflation-adjusted dol ars over the decade. Although these two
activities provide the bulk of NPS discretionary funding for DM, they also cover other maintenance activities
outside of DM. Further, certain other budget accounts contribute funding to projects on the DM backlog.
Figure 4. Appropriations for Two NPS Budget Activities That Primarily Address
Deferred Maintenance, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Source: Annual House Appropriations Committee detailed tables for NPS, and NPS budget justifications for
FY2013-FY2021.
Notes: Funding does not include supplemental appropriations to the Construction account for disaster
recovery. See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
For more information on NPS deferred maintenance, see CRS Report R44924, National Park Service Deferred
Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions
; and CRS Report R43997, Deferred Maintenance of Federal Land Management
Agencies: FY2009-FY2018 Estimates and Issues
.

6 Unlike other inflation adjustments in this report, the inflation adjustment for deferred maintenance is calculated using
an index from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that specifically reflects inflation associated with nondefense
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Construction Account
The second-largest NPS account, titled Construction, funds repairs and improvements to existing
facilities as wel as new construction projects, among other activities. Appropriations for the
Construction account declined in the first few years of the decade (excluding supplemental
appropriations) but grew thereafter, and the FY2020 appropriation was 80% higher than FY2011
in inflation-adjusted dollars (Table 2 and Figure 5). Supplemental appropriations for hurricane
recovery in FY2013, FY2018, and FY2019 increased the account totals for those years. The
Construction account represented 7% of the total discretionary appropriation for FY2011 and
12% in FY2020.
Figure 5. Appropriations for NPS’s Construction Account, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
Among the specific activities funded in the Construction account, the largest is line-item
construction and maintenance
(see box above), which covers construction of new facilities and
rehabilitation and replacement of existing facilities. Appropriations for this budget activity nearly
doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars between FY2011 and FY2020 (growth of 99.9%). According
to NPS, the activity “focuses on projects that repair, replace, or improve high priority mission
critical and mission dependent assets, and ensures that investments are reasonable, cost effective,
and fiscal y sustainable over the life-time of the investment.”7 Other activities funded in the
Construction account include emergency and unscheduled construction, repair and replacement of

infrastructure. Bureau of Economic Analysis, T able 3.9.4, “ Price Indexes for Government Consumption Expenditures
and Gross Investment,” for nondefense structures, annual indexes, at https://apps.bea.gov/iT able/iT able.cfm?reqid=
19&step=2#reqid=19&step=2&isuri=1&1921=survey.
7 NPS, Budget Justifications and Performance Information, Fiscal Year 202 1, p. Const-9, at https://www.doi.gov/sites/
doi.gov/files/uploads/fy2021-budget-justification-nps.pdf.
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employee housing, dam safety, equipment replacement, construction planning and program
management, development of general management plans for park units, and preparation of special
studies of areas (for instance, to assess their potential for inclusion in the National Park System).
Land Acquisition and State Assistance
The Land Acquisition and State Assistance (LASA) account represents NPS’s share from the
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF; 54 U.S.C. §§200301 et seq.). The LWCF, funded
mainly from offshore oil and gas revenues, is the primary source for land acquisition funding for
the four major federal land management agencies—NPS, the Bureau of Land Management, the
U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the LWCF supports
grants to states (and, through states, to localities) for assistance with recreation planning,
acquiring recreational lands and waters, and developing outdoor recreational facilities.8 These
50/50 matching grants, administered by NPS, general y are al ocated to states by formula,
although in recent years a portion of the state funding also has been appropriated for a
competitive grant program.9
Under the LWCF Act, the LWCF receives deposits of $900 mil ion annual y, primarily from
offshore oil and gas revenues.10 During the decade covered by this report, this funding was
available only to the extent provided in discretionary appropriations acts, and at no point during
the decade was the “full funding” appropriated. In August 2020, enactment of the Great American
Outdoors Act (P.L. 116-152) shifted al funding under the LWCF Act to mandatory spending.11
During the FY2011-FY2020 period, discretionary appropriations for the LASA account—
including both NPS federal land acquisition and assistance to states—increased overal , with a
notable growth in the second half of the decade (Figure 6 and Table 2). The appropriation was
$94.8 mil ion in FY2011 and $206.1 mil ion in FY2020 in nominal dollars.12 Adjusted for
inflation, this is a growth of 86%. The LASA account represented approximately 4% of the total
NPS appropriation in FY2011 and 6% in FY2020.
The increase in funding for the account is primarily attributable to higher appropriations for the
state assistance program in recent years. The FY2020 appropriation for NPS federal land
acquisition was 7% higher than FY2011 when adjusted for inflation, while the appropriation for
NPS assistance to states was 200% higher. State assistance was roughly $40 mil ion-$50 mil ion
annual y for FY2011-FY2015 and more than doubled in nominal dollars, reaching $110 mil ion-
$140 mil ion, for FY2016-FY2020. For land acquisition by NPS, the funding ranged between $44
mil ion and $69 mil ion during the decade.13

8 In addition to the state grants and federal land acquisition grants discussed here, a portion of the LWCF also has been
used to fund other programs. For more information on the LWCF, see CRS Report RL33531, Land and Water
Conservation Fund: Overview, Funding History, an d Issues
, by Carol Hardy Vincent , and CRS Report R44121, Land
and Water Conservation Fund: Appropriations for “Other Purposes”
, by Carol Hardy Vincent .
9 For FY2020, $25.0 million (out of a total of $140.0 million for state assistance) was for competitive grants.
10 T he state grant program of the LWCF also receives mandatory funding from offshore oil and gas revenues under the
Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-432).
11 For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act, see CRS In Focus IF11636, The Great American
Outdoors Act, P.L. 116-152
, by Carol Hardy Vincent, Laura B. Comay, and Bill Heniff Jr.
12 T he LASA account did not receive supplemental appropriations during the decade.
13 T he appropriation for NPS federal acquisition also includes an amount for the American Battlefield Protection
Program’s (ABPP’s) battlefield acquisition grants to states (54 U.S.C. §308103), even though this portion of the money
is not for federal acquisitions. In FY2020, the amount for ABPP grants was $13.0 million (nominal dollars), and in
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Figure 6. Appropriations for NPS’s Land Acquisition and State Assistance (LASA)
Account, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 data are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
Historic Preservation Fund
The Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), established in 1976, is administered by NPS through
appropriations to the agency’s HPF account. In accordance with the purposes of the National
Historic Preservation Act (NHPA),14 the fund primarily provides grants-in-aid to state and tribal
historic preservation offices for conservation of cultural and historical assets and sites. These
grants are awarded by formula and require a 60% federal–40% state matching share. The HPF is
funded by revenues from oil and gas activities on the U.S. outer continental shelf. Funding was
reauthorized through FY2023 in P.L. 114-289.
The HPF receives $150 mil ion annual y in deposits from offshore oil and gas revenues, but the
funding is available only to the extent appropriated by Congress. Annual appropriations from the
account were less than the deposited amount throughout the decade, except in FY2019 (counting
supplemental appropriations). Regular appropriations for the account were relatively steady in the
early part of the decade and then grew in the latter part (Figure 7 and Table 2). The FY2020
appropriation was 87% higher in inflation-adjusted dollars than the FY2011 appropriation. The
HPF account represented approximately 2% of the total NPS appropriation in FY2011 and 4% in
FY2020.
The largest activity in the HPF account is grant funding for state historic preservation offices,
which declined by 3% in inflation-adjusted terms over the decade. Grants for tribal historic
preservation offices, on the other hand, rose by 47% after adjusting for inflation. The account also

FY2011 it was $9.0 million. For more information, see CRS In Focus IF11329, Am erican Battlefield Protection
Program
, by Mark K. DeSantis.
14 P.L. 89-665, as amended; 54 U.S.C. §§300101 et seq. For more information on historic preservation and the HPF,
see CRS Report R45800, The Federal Role in Historic Preservation: An Overview, by Mark K. DeSantis.
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funded various competitive grant programs in particular years. For FY2020, these included grants
for sites associated with the African American civil rights movement, grants to preserve sites and
stories associated with securing civil rights for “al Americans,” and grants to underrepresented
communities. As separate line items, the account also funds grants for historical y black colleges
and universities (HBCUs), historic revitalization, and the Save America’s Treasures program to
restore national y significant historic structures and artifacts.
Figure 7. Appropriations for NPS’s Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) Account,
FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
Supplemental appropriations augmented regular appropriations for the HPF account in three
years—FY2013, FY2018, and FY2019—and were targeted primarily to hurricane recovery.15 The
funding was mainly to assist recovering states and territories with compliance activities related to
Section 106 of the NHPA.16 Under Section 106, undertakings that receive federal funds or
permits—including some hurricane recovery activities—must be evaluated for their potential
effects on historic properties.
National Recreation and Preservation Account
The National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P) account funds NPS programs that primarily
assist state, local, tribal, and private land managers with outdoor recreation planning, natural and
cultural resource preservation, and other activities outside the National Park System.
Appropriations for the account were 6% higher in inflation-adjusted dollars in FY2020 as
compared with FY2011 (Figure 8 and Table 2). The portion of total NPS funding used for the
NR&P account was roughly the same (2%) at the beginning and end of the decade. The NR&P
account was not a recipient of supplemental funding during the decade.

15 P.L. 113-2, P.L. 115-123, and P.L. 116-20. T he FY2019 funds also were for response to other types of natural
disasters.
16 54 U.S.C. §306108.
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Figure 8. Appropriations for NPS’s National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P)
Account, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2011-FY2014 and FY2019-FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee
detailed tables for NPS. Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
A variety of natural, cultural, and recreational assistance programs are funded in the NR&P
account. NPS’s Heritage Partnership Program, which provides funding assistance to national
heritage areas, is the largest single program in the account.17 Its appropriations grew over the
decade by 8% in inflation-adjusted dollars, despite budget requests from the Obama and Trump
Administrations for significant reductions. There were 49 heritage areas until Congress
established 6 new heritage areas in March 2019 in P.L. 116-9. The NR&P account also has
included other programs that assist nonfederal entities, such as the American Battlefield
Protection Program;18 Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program; National Natural
Landmarks and National Historic Landmarks Programs; and National Register of Historic Places.
The account further covers international park affairs, environmental and compliance review, and
grants administration.
Centennial Challenge
The Centennial Chal enge account was funded during the latter part of the decade (FY2015-
FY2020).19 The account consists of a matching-grant program to spur partner donations for park
improvements, primarily aimed at addressing deferred maintenance.20 The name “Centennial

17 National heritage areas are established by Congress but are not federally managed, and they are not part of the
National Park System. For more on national heritage areas, see CRS Report RL33462, Heritage Areas: Background,
Proposals, and Current Issues
, by Mark K. DeSantis.
18 T he ABPP’s planning grants are funded in the NR&P account, while grants to states for battlefield land acquisition
are funded in the LASA account.
19 T he account had earlier received funding in FY2008 and also was funded in FY2010 under the title “Park Partnership
Grants.”
20 T he account provides the federal share of matching grants for “signature” park projects and programs, primarily
aimed at addressing deferred maintenance. “Signature” projects and programs are to be identified by t he Interior
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Chal enge” indicates the fund’s origin as a program to improve the parks in anticipation of NPS’s
2016 centennial anniversary and its second century of park management. Both the George W.
Bush and Obama Administrations had proposed discretionary and mandatory funding for the fund
prior to its legislative establishment in December 2016 (P.L. 114-289), and Congress had
provided discretionary appropriations in some years, starting in FY2008. P.L. 114-289 codified
the Centennial Chal enge Fund and authorized it to receive federal revenues from certain sales of
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes to seniors, in addition to discretionary
appropriations. The senior pass revenues are provided as offsetting collections.21 Revenues are to
be matched on at least a one-to-one basis by nonfederal donations.
During the FY2015-FY2020 period, appropriations for the fund rose and then fel (Table 2 and
Figure 9). The FY2020 appropriation was 37% higher than FY2015 in inflation-adjusted
dollars.22 The account represented less than 1% of total NPS appropriations in both years.
Figure 9. Appropriations for NPS’s Centennial Challenge Account, FY2011-FY2020
($ mil ions, in nominal and inflation-adjusted 2011 dol ars)

Sources: Data for FY2015-FY2018 are from NPS budget justifications for FY2017-FY2020. Data for FY2019-
FY2020 are from annual House Appropriations Committee detailed tables for NPS.
Notes: See footnote 1 for additional information on this figure.
NPS Appropriations in Context
Changes in NPS appropriations can be considered in the context of the National Park System’s
size, the number of visits to the parks, and NPS staffing levels, among other factors. Over the past
decade, the acreage of the National Park System grew by 1%, while 29 new units were added.
Visitation peaked in 2016 and was general y higher in the second part of the decade than the first.

Secretary and must “ help prepare the national parks for another century of conservation, preservation, and visitor
enjoyment” (P.L. 114-289).
21 For a discussion of offsetting collections in the federal budget process, see CRS Report 98-721, Introduction to the
Federal Budget Process
, coordinated by James V. Saturno.
22 T he Centennial Challenge account received no supplemental funding during the decade.
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Staffing levels fluctuated yearly but averaged around 20,000 full-time equivalent (FTE)
employees and were lower at the end of the decade than at the beginning.
Size of the National Park System
National Park System acreage grew by 1% over the decade, from 84.4 mil ion acres to 85.1
mil ion acres (Figure 10 and Table 3). The percentage of National Park System lands owned by
the federal government remained steady, at 95% of total system lands.23 The remainder—the
nonfederal land in the system—includes lands within park boundaries that are owned by state or
local governments and by private landowners.
Figure 10. Size of the National Park System, FY2011-FY2020
(in mil ions of acres)

Source: NPS Land Resources Division, annual summaries of acreage, available at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/
lwcf/acreagereports.htm.
Notes: “Federal land” category includes NPS Fee Acres, Less Than Fee Acres, and Other Federal Fee Acres.
“Nonfederal land” category includes Other Public Acres and Private Acres.
A total of 29 units were added to the system in the FY2011-FY2020 period.24 Many were
relatively smal in acreage, such as Stonewal National Monument in New York (0.12 acres) and

23 Almost all of the system’s federally owned lands are directly administered by NPS. However, the federally owned
portion of the system also includes some NPS “ less than fee” acres (e.g., conservation easements or rights-of-way) and
some lands managed by other federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, or the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. T aken together, these two types of lands amount to about 1% of the federally owned portion
of the system.
24 T hese units are the River Raisin National Battlefield Park (MI), President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace
Home National Historic Site (AR), Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (DC), Fort Monroe National Monument (VA),
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (NJ), Cesar E. Chavez National Monument (CA), Harriet T ubman
Underground Railroad National Historical Park (MD), First State National Historical Park (DE), Charles Young
Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (OH), T ule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (NV), World War I
Memorial (DC), Valles Caldera National Preserve (NM), Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (MA and
RI), Pullman National Monument (IL), Honouliuli National Monument (HI), Waco Mammoth National Monument
(T X), Manhattan Project National Historical Park (TN, NM, and WA), Castle Mountains National Monument (CA),
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Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, DC (0.34 acres). The
largest units added to the system during the decade were Val es Caldera National Preserve in New
Mexico (89,766 acres) and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine (87,564
acres). Other acreage changes resulted from boundary adjustments in existing parks.
Table 3. Size of the National Park System, FY2011-FY2020
(in mil ions of acres)

Federal Land
Nonfederal Land
Total Acreage
FY2011
80.485
3.900
84.385
FY2012
80.384
4.039
84.423
FY2013
80.473
4.007
84.479
FY2014
80.466
4.011
84.477
FY2015
80.598
4.019
84.616
FY2016
80.728
4.008
84.736
FY2017
81.008
4.031
85.039
FY2018
81.011
4.034
85.045
FY2019
81.095
4.005
85.100
FY2020
81.098
4.014
85.112
Source: NPS Land Resources Division, annual summaries of acreage, available at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/
lwcf/acreagereports.htm.
Notes: Federal Land category includes NPS Fee Acres, Less Than Fee Acres, and Other Federal Fee Acres.
Nonfederal Land category includes Other Public Acres and Private Acres. Totals may not sum precisely due to
rounding.
Visits to the National Parks
Numbers of recreational visits to the National Park System varied over the past 10 years but
general y increased over the decade. The highest numbers of visits were in 2016 (331.0 mil ion
visits) and 2017 (330.9 mil ion visits; Figure 11 and Table 4). Visits in 2019, the most recent year
for which full-year data are available, were 17% higher than in 2011. Many factors may affect
visitation to the parks in a given year, including national economic conditions, weather, changes
in population demographics, park closures due to disasters or lapses in appropriations, park
promotional campaigns, competing recreational choices, and other factors.
NPS visitation for 2020 is available through the end of November 2020. The year-to-date total of
245.4 mil ion visitors is 21% lower than the total for the same 11-month span in 2019 (312.0
mil ion visitors). Visitation had been up in the first two months of 2020 as compared with 2019,
but it dropped to comparatively lower totals starting in March, coinciding with impacts of the
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States and the accompanying

Belmont -Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (DC), Stonewall National Monument (NY), Katahdin Woods
and Waters National Monument (ME), Harriet T ubman National Historical Park (NY), Birmingham Civil Rights
National Monument (AL), Freedom Riders National Monument (AL), Reconstruction Era National Monument (SC),
Camp Nelson National Monument (KY), Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial (DC), Mill Springs Battlefield National
Monument (KY), and Ste. Genevieve Nat ional Historical Park (MO). A list of recent additions to the National Park
System is at NPS, Recent Changes in the National Park System , at https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/recent -changes.htm.
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temporary closure of some park units. The difference was largest in April 2020 as compared with
April 2019—a 53% reduction in visitation.
Figure 11. Annual Recreational Visits to the National Park System, 2011-2020
(total visits in mil ions, by calendar year)

Source: National Park Service, NPS Stats, at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/National.
Notes: The figure for 2020 shows visits through November 2020 (245.4 mil ion visits). For comparison with the
previous year, visits through November 2019 totaled 312.0 mil ion.
Table 4. Annual Recreational Visits to the National Park System, 2011-2020
(total visits in mil ions, by calendar year)
Number of Visits
Number of Visits
Year
(in millions)
Year
(in millions)
2011
278.9
2016
331.0
2012
282.8
2017
330.9
2013
273.6
2018
318.2
2014
292.8
2019
327.5
2015
307.2
2020 (thr. Nov.)
245.4
Source: NPS, NPS Stats, at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/National.
Notes: The figure for 2020 shows visits through November 2020 (245.4 mil ion visits). For comparison with the
previous year, visits through November 2019 totaled 312.0 mil ion.
National Park Service Staffing
NPS full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing levels were highest in the earlier part of the decade. FTE
staffing ranged from a high of 22,051 in FY2011 to a low of 18,544 in FY2019 (Figure 12 and
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Table 5).25 Staffing for FY2020 (18,567 FTE) was 16% lower than at the beginning of the
decade.
Figure 12. NPS Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Staff, FY2011-FY2020

Sources: FY2011-FY2015 numbers from U.S. Department of the Interior, “Department of the Interior FTE
History: Ful -Time Equivalent Staff Year (FTE) Actual of Bureaus and Offices,” at https://www.doi.gov/sites/
doi.gov/files/uploads/fte-_history_table-20161108.pdf. FY2016-FY2020 numbers from NPS budget justifications.
Table 5. NPS Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Staff, FY2011-FY2020
Year
Number of FTEs
Year
Number of FTEs
FY2011
22,051
FY2016
19,722
FY2012
21,830
FY2017
19,668
FY2013
20,720
FY2018
19,032
FY2014
19,894
FY2019
18,544
FY2015
19,539
FY2020
18,567
Sources: FY2010-FY2015 numbers from U.S. Department of the Interior, “Department of the Interior FTE
History: Ful -Time Equivalent Staff Year (FTE) Actual of Bureaus and Offices,” at https://www.doi.gov/sites/
doi.gov/files/uploads/fte-_history_table-20161108.pdf. FY2016-FY2019 numbers from NPS budget justifications.

25 T hese employment figures, reported in NPS budget justifications, differ from those reported by the Office of
Personnel Management (OPM). NPS calculates employment by FT Es, defined as the total number of regular straight -
time hours (not including overtime or holiday hours) worked by employees, divided by the number of compensable
hours applicable to each fiscal year. By contrast, OPM data utilizes “on -board employment” figures, which calculate
the number of employees in pay status at the end of the quarter. For more information, see CRS Report R45480, U.S.
Departm ent of the Interior: An Overview
, by Mark K. DeSantis.
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Concluding Summary
NPS’s regular discretionary appropriations fluctuated over the past decade, with an overal trend
of decline in the first few years of the decade and growth thereafter. The FY2020 regular
appropriation was 29% higher than FY2011 in nominal dollars and 11% higher in inflation-
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adjusted dollars. Supplemental appropriations for disaster relief increased the totals in FY2013,
FY2018, and FY2019. The share of total appropriations represented by each individual account in
the NPS portfolio also fluctuated, although the account covering park operations represented by
far the highest share throughout the decade.
The funding changes took place in the context of a park system of relatively stable size and a
staffing level that declined by approximately 16% during the decade. Although park acreage grew
only slightly, 29 units were added to the system over the 10-year period. Visits to the parks
general y were higher in the second half of the decade than the first and peaked in 2016 at
approximately 331 mil ion visits.
A major funding issue for NPS is infrastructure reinvestment. The agency’s backlog of deferred
maintenance and repairs was estimated at $11.92 bil ion for FY2018. The identified backlog
amount grew in nominal dollars but declined in inflation-adjusted dollars over the decade.
Combined funding for two discretionary subaccounts that mainly address deferred maintenance
(within the ONPS and Construction accounts) increased by about 50% in inflation-adjusted
dollars over this period. NPS’s infrastructure needs have continued to receive attention in the
116th Congress, both within and outside the annual appropriations process.

Author Information

Laura B. Comay

Specialist in Natural Resources Policy



Disclaimer
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Congressional Research Service
R42757 · VERSION 34 · UPDATED
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