Salazar introduces bill for spending in national parks
April 5, 2008
A Senate proposal could generate up to $100 million annually for "signature projects" in national parks.
Four U.S. senators, including Ken Salazar, D-Colo., introduced the National Park Centennial Fund Act on Thursday. The act would improve the natural beauty of America's national parks in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the National Park System in 2016, according to a statement from Salazar's office.
The act also builds upon a proposal offered by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to foster philanthropic contributions to the National Park System, according to Salazar's office.
"Almost 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt led the effort to create a system by which the crown jewels of our American landscape would forever be preserved for future generations to enjoy," Salazar said in the prepared statement. "I am proud to take the lead in this bipartisan effort to ensure that all of America's national parks, from the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the cliffs of Acadia National Park in Maine, are ready for their centennial celebration in 2016 and for the years thereafter."
Other senators who introduced the legislation are Susan Collins, R-Maine, Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Norm Coleman, R-Minn.
The Salazar-Collins-Baucus-Coleman bill provides $100 million in mandatory spending-funded by a new conservation royalty from unanticipated off-shore oil and gas revenues for each of the fiscal years from 2008 to 2017 to complete special, select Centennial projects throughout the National Park System, according to Salazar's office. Projects are to be developed by the secretary of interior with input from the public and National Park Service employees. Once compiled, the project list will be presented to Congress as part of the president's annual budget submission for proper Congressional review and approval.
The National Park Centennial Fund Act also requires that project proposals fall into the following categories or initiatives: Education, Diversity, Supporting Park Professionals, Environmental Leadership, Natural Resource Protection, Cultural Resource Protection, Visitor Enjoyment and Health, and Construction.
The bill specifies that no more than 30 percent of the amounts available in the fund in any fiscal year can be spent on construction activities, according to Salazar's office. The bill also specifies that the federal dollars made available from the Centennial Fund will supplement and not replace annual Park Service expenditures, and that adequate permanent staffing levels must be maintained.
As part of his ongoing effort to prepare America's national parks for their 100th year anniversary, Salazar also introduced, with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the National Park Ranger School Partnership Act, which would establish a pilot grant program to help schools team up with national parks so that children, teachers and park rangers can make better use of our parks as outdoor classrooms.