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Fiscal 2010 Budget: Park Service; NPS Stimulus Spending




STATEMENT OF DANIEL N. WENK,

ACTING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,

BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS,

OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE

 CONCERNING THE FISCAL YEAR 2010 BUDGET REQUEST

FOR THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AND THE PROPOSED EXPENDITURES

UNDER THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT

June 16, 2009

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today at this oversight hearing on the FY 2010 President's request for the National Park Service (NPS).

We appreciate the support that Congress has provided for our continuing work as stewards of many of our Nation's most treasured natural and cultural resources.For FY 2009, Congress increased the NPS operations budget by $100 million, which will go a long way toward helping our parks to provide better services to our visitors, to improve the protection and preservation of our resources and to make them accessible to the public.Congress also made available $750 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the National Park Service directly and an additional $170 million for park roads through the Department of Transportation. These funds will help us make significant, much-needed investments in facilities, equipment, and roads to show measurable improvements in facility conditions.

Through the President's FY 2010 budget request, the National Park Service will strive to achieve the goals of the Secretary of the Interior's Protecting America's Treasured Landscapes initiative and prepare for another century of conservation, preservation, and enjoyment. The NPS will build park operational capacity, tackle climate impacts and enhance critical stewardship programs at parks, engage our youth in conservation, effectively maintain NPS facilities, and ensure organizational capacity and professional development.

The 2010 budget increase of $171.0 million (+7%) for all National Park Service programs provide the impetus to shape the national park system to meet the expectations of the public for a legacy that is uniquely American. This comparison excludes Recovery Act funding.In preparation for the 100th anniversary in 2016, the budget request provides the means to engage Americans in getting reacquainted with nature's wonders and the Nation's proud history, and for international visitors to enjoy these special places and the stories of the Country.

The FY 2010 budget request proposes total discretionary appropriations of approximately $2.7 billion and includes $433 million in mandatory appropriations for a total budget authority of$3.1 billion. This includes an increase of $171.0 million above the FY 2009 discretionary appropriations and an increase of $34.2 million in mandatory appropriations.

The FY 2010 budget request reflects the President's commitment to our national parks with a $100 million program increase in park operations to maintain facilities, preserve cultural and natural resources, and protect the investments being made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.The FY 2010 budget request safeguards the investments made in our parks and builds upon the rich philanthropic history of the Service by including a $25 million dollar matching grant program for Park Partnership projects.

Operations of the National Park System (ONPS)

The FY 2010 budget request includes $2.6 billion for ONPS, an increase of $134.5 million (+6%) over the 2009 enacted level.This includes a $100 million programmatic increase and funding for increased fixed costs of $41.0 million. The 2010 budget is focused on five key components within the ONPS account: Park Operations, Climate Impacts, Youth Programs, Stewardship and Education, and Professional Excellence.

1.Park Operations - The budget proposes increases totaling $73.7 million to enhance park operations capacity. Highlights include $57.5 million for specific park base increases at 212 parks, $8.0 million to support the restructuring of major procurement and contracting services in parks that will allow parks to share acquisition resources, $5.0 million to support building the operational capacity in sworn officers and civilian support staff for the United States Park Police, $0.5 million for park safety and regulations, $0.5 million to improve commercial services management at parks, $1.6 million in administrative support and public health and safety, and $2.2 million in facility maintenance to expand emergency storm damage coverage used to provide safe, uninterrupted visitor use of facilities.

2. Climate Impacts - The National Park Service FY 2010 budget request includes $10.0 million as part of the Department's initiative on Tackling Climate Impacts for collaboration with Interior bureaus and other State and Federal agencies that monitor climate change.The budget request will provide $5.5 million to develop land, water and wildlife adaptation strategies, $3.0 million to build a climate impact monitoring system using the existing NPS natural resource network, $0.7 million to provide project seed money to the field, and $0.8 million to assemble a Climate Impact Response Office that will develop a service-wide approach to research.

3.Youth Programs - The 2010 budget request includes an increase of $5.0 million as part of the Department's Creating a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps initiative to increase youth partnership programs in the National Park Service. The National Park Service is dedicated to engaging America's youth in developing a life-long awareness of and commitment to preserving our nation's exceptional natural and cultural resources through educational, vocational and volunteer service opportunities. The NPS Youth Internship Program will introduce high school and college-aged youth to activities in land conservation and interpretation of natural and cultural resources. Internships involve students in intellectually challenging assignments that allow them to work side-by-side with park staff on projects that provide vocational and educational opportunities in resource protection, research, and the visitor experience at NPS sites.

4.Stewardship and Education - The FY 2010 President's budget request proposes increases totaling $5.9 million for resource stewardship and interpretive programs. The proposal includes $2.0 million for Historical and Archeological Inventories and $2.5 million to implement the NPS Ocean Park Stewardship plan to enhance research, operational, and educational programs. An increase of $1.4 million will advance the Interpretation and Education Renaissance Action Plan and institute a web-learning pilot program to provide information for internet visitors of all ages.

5.Professional Excellence - The most valuable assets available to the Park Service are its more than 20,000 dedicated employees.An efficient and effective park system requires that NPS invest in their professional development.An increase of $3.9 million will directly support this investment, including $2.7 million to enhance the Service's leadership and management succession program and $1.2 million to support the expansion of the Superintendents Academy.Nearly $1.0 million is proposed to automate the labor-intensive human resource processes that are critical to achieving efficient operations and recruiting new and diverse employees and $0.5 million is requested to ensure acquisition employees receive adequate training.

The FY 2010 budget request also details a restructuring that recalibrates funding among the programs within the ONPS account. This realignment brings budget requests in line with expenditures, providing Congress with a more clear understanding of the needs of the Park Service and the use of appropriated dollars to support activities.

Park Partnership Project Grants

The FY 2010 budget request continues to support the partnership aspect of the Protecting America's Treasured Landscapes initiative through a $25.0 million Park Partnership matching grants program.The program invites individuals, foundations, businesses, and the private sector to contribute donations to support signature programs and projects in our national parks. Partners in these projects are required to match the Federal funding, at a minimum of 50 percent of the cost, with private philanthropic donations.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

The 2010 President's request includes a renewed commitment of resources to programs funded through the LWCF and proposes a multi-year incremental approach to fully fund these programs at $900.0 million annually across the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.For the National Park Service, the FY 2010 budget proposes funding totaling $98.0 million in discretionary appropriations, of which $68.0 million is available for land protection projects and administration.Included within the proposal is $4.0 million to provide grants to States and local communities to preserve and protect Civil War battlefield sites outside the national park system. The request also provides $30.0 million, including administrative costs, for State Conservation Grants funded by the LWCF. An additional $10.0 million for State Conservation grants is available from the LWCF in mandatory appropriations.

Construction

The $206.0 million requested for Construction includes $116.8 million for line-item construction projects.This request, along with recreation fees, park roads funding, and the funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will provide substantial resources towards protecting and maintaining existing park assets.

Historic Preservation Fund

The NPS plays a vital role in preserving the Nation's cultural history through a variety of programs that address preservation needs nationwide.The 2010 budget for the Historic Preservation Fund is $77.7 million, including $20.0 million for Save America's Treasures and $3.2 million for Preserve America grants.The budget requests $54.5 million for Grants-in-Aid to States, Territories and Tribes for Historic Preservation.The request includes an additional $4.0 million for States and Territories and $1.0 million for Grants-in-Aid to Tribes.

National Recreation and Preservation (NR&P)

The National Recreation and Preservation appropriation funds programs connected with local and community efforts to preserve natural and cultural resources.Highlights within the total request of $53.9 million include $15.7 million for National Heritage Areas and an increase of $0.5 million to provide technical assistance to communities through the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program.

Fixed Costs and Offsetting Reductions

The FY 2010 budget request proposes $43.2 million to fully fund fixed costs, enabling parks to strive toward the goals of the Park Service without absorbing non-discretionary fixed costs increases. The proposal reflects increased costs for pay, health care, services provided by other agencies, and the Department's Working Capital Fund.

The budget request proposes decreases in funding totaling $46.6 million. Reductions reflect the elimination of funding for non-recurring costs such as $4.0 million for the Presidential Inauguration and $5.8 million in congressional earmarks. An estimated $2.0 million in savings will be gained from reduced operational costs due to energy efficient retro-fitting of federal buildings. The budget proposes a reduction of $32.4 million in Line-Item Construction primarily due to reduced expenditures in Everglades (in response to available unobligated balances) and increased commitments under the Recovery Act.

Performance Integration

In formulating the FY 2010 budget request, the National Park Service utilized a variety of tools to incorporate performance results into the decision-making process. These tools include the Budget Cost Projection Module, the Core Operations Analysis, the Business Planning Initiative, and the NPS Scorecard, as well as continued program evaluations.These tools are used to develop a more consistent approach to integrating budget and performance across the Service, as well as to support further accountability for budget performance integration at all levels of the organization.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The National Park Service received $750 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This provides the National Park Service with a unique opportunity to make investments in projects that will achieve long-term benefits for the public.We plan to use these funds to complete approximately 800 much-needed projects that will stimulate our economy, provide jobs in communities across the nation, and benefit millions of visitors that come to our parks each year.The NPS will begin economic recovery projects at 107 national parks in the next 100 days.Also, $15 million in grants will go to protecting and to restoring buildings at historically black colleges and universities.

These projects fall under six major categories that will allow us to make investments in some of our irreplaceable assets by restoring facilities, landscapes and habitat, spurring renewable energy retrofits in parks, and creating jobs in park units throughout our country.These categories include:

(1) construction projects to upgrade facilities for health, safety, and energy efficiency, demolish those facilities that are obsolete, and replace or repair critical infrastructure;

(2) deferred maintenance projects to replace utility, water, and wastewater systems, restore outdated or damaged facilities, and stabilize historical structures to extend their useful life;

(3) energy efficient equipment replacement efforts to replace aging vehicles, heavy equipment, and HVAC systems with next generation energy efficient equipment;

(4) trails projects to restore trails for safer use and extend the life of trails by controlling erosion, repairing trail surfaces, and replacing deteriorated boardwalks;

(5) abandoned mine lands safety projects selected on their ability to maintain access and allow for airflow at mine openings to remedy serious health and safety concerns at the sites and to allow mine openings to continue to be used as wildlife habitat; and

(6) road maintenance projects to rehabilitate and preserve deteriorated road surfaces along our 5,450 paved miles of public park roads, 6,544 miles of unpaved roads, the equivalent of 948 paved miles of parking areas.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my summary of the FY 2010 budget request for the National Park Service. We would be pleased to answer any questions you and the other members of the subcommittee may have.