WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today applauded the House Natural Resources Committee for its unanimous passage of substitute amendment to H.R. 3094 that would create a permanent fund to pay for large-scale projects at National Parks across the country as part of the National Park Centennial Initiative. The Initiative, announced in 2006, proposed an innovative federal Centennial Challenge matching fund that would be used to match philanthropic contributions for the benefit of our national parks between now and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.
“I am grateful for the actions of the House Natural Resources Committee today and the Members’ support for our National Parks and the National Park Centennial Initiative,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “I appreciate the work Chairman Rahall, Congressman Grijalva, Ranking Member Young, Congressman Bishop and the Members of the Committee have done to make today happen. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress as we prepare our parks for a new century of preservation and visitation.”
Secretary Kempthorne announced the first 110 national park improvement projects at an event on April 24, 2008 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. These $50 million in projects, as well as all future projects, are the result of a combination of federal funds that match philanthropic contributions. The first round of Centennial Challenge projects range from expansion of a popular outdoor stewardship education outreach program for teen-agers in the Washington, D.C. area to saving endangered sea turtles along the Texas coast at Padre Island to renovation of Yosemite National Park’s iconic Tunnel View Overlook to citizen scientist and citizen naturalist projects at national parks across the country.