National Parks Funding

National Parks: Will They Survive for Future Generations? 


March 14, 2005

I wish to thank the committee for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the status of Gettysburg National Military Park, Eisenhower National Historic Site, and Independence National Historical Park. First, on behalf of the National Park Service, I would like to acknowledge and thank Congress for its continuing support of these three areas as well as the entire National Park System.

The FY 05 Appropriation provided a net increase of $63.9 million for operation of the National Park System. We are pleased that Congress appropriated this level of funding. The average increase to park budgets this year is approximately 6 percent. Gettysburg National Military Park’s increase is 6 percent, Eisenhower National Historic Site’s increase is 2.5 percent, and Independence National Historical Park’s increase is over 4 percent. The President’s FY 2006 budget continues the large increases from last year and includes an additional $50.5 million above the 2005 enacted level, allowing for, among other things, increases for pay, benefits, and other fix costs.

Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site

The National Park Service mission at Gettysburg National Military Park is to preserve and protect the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and provide an understanding of the events that occurred here within the context of American history.

The park, established on February 11, 1895, includes the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and 6,000 acres of historic farmhouses, barns, fences, orchards, earthworks, roads, woodlots, and other key features of the battlefield.

The top three priorities for the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site are to implement the partnership agreement with the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation to construct new visitor facilities and rehabilitate portions of the Gettysburg battlefield; to continue partnership efforts with the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg and others to rehabilitate Gettysburg battlefield landscapes by bringing back missing features that affected the fighting in the major battle action areas throughout the park; and to implement the Borough of Gettysburg Interpretive Plan with partners to restore and enhance historic assets in the town of Gettysburg and to bring more of the park's visitors into the town.

Gettysburg is the most visited Civil War site in the National Park System, and has attracted an average of 1.79 million visitors per year over the past eight years. Over the past four years, the park has received operating increases. Operations funding for Gettysburg has increased from 2 3 $5,069,000 in FY 01 to $5,174,000 in FY 04 to $5,483,000 in FY 05. In addition, the park has received funds through the Natural Resource Challenge, which increased from $24,000 in FY 01 to $113,000 in FY 05.

The Superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park also manages Eisenhower National Historic Site and the two parks share staff and resources. At Eisenhower, the National Park Service mission is to protect and preserve the resources associated with Eisenhower National Historic Site and to promote understanding and appreciation of the life and work of Dwight David Eisenhower. The 690-acre site consists of the home and farm of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Visitation to the site was 72,000 in 2004. Operations funding for the site also steadily increased from $1,036,000 in FY 01 to $1,045,000 in FY 04 to $1,071,000 in FY 05.

Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site met or exceeded 50 of their 53 Government Performance and Results Act performance goals in FY 04 (94%). Goals that were exceeded included removal of exotic species, condition of historic structures and museum collections, educational programs, diversity, and donations. In addition, the parks have instituted many management reforms including the elimination of two supervisory positions, the Site Manager and the Chief of Maintenance at Eisenhower National Historic Site, with the duties assumed by Gettysburg supervisors; the conversion of three positions from National Park Service employees to the private sector (a custodial worker, a painter, and an architect); and the consolidation of the Personnel Servicing Office function with Gettysburg National Military Park 4 now covering five parks (Gettysburg, Eisenhower, Ft. McHenry National Historic Site, Hampton National Historic Site, and Assateague Island National Seashore).

Congress has been generous in addressing infrastructure needs. In the past four years, $20.6 million in appropriated project funding has been provided to Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site in line-item construction, and repair/rehabilitation project funding. Congress earmarked $11.9 million of these appropriated funds for the restoration of the Cyclorama Painting and the preservation treatment of Gettysburg National Military Park’s artifact and archival collections and $6.6 million for the rehabilitation of the Wills House, a recent addition to the park. Cumulatively from FY 01 through FY 05, the park also received $3.3 million in funds for repair and rehabilitation as an addition to its base operations budget, and another $689,000 for ongoing maintenance needs.

Much has been accomplished at Gettysburg since the National Park Service began the implementation of the park’s General Management Plan (GMP) in 1999. The GMP calls for the restoration of the battlefield and sets forth clear goals for operating the park. Recent implementation efforts include the removal of the Gettysburg Tower, the restoration of historic vistas, the replanting of historic orchards, the restoration of numerous monuments, and the acquisition and restoration of historic landscapes.

The National Park Service has been the fortunate beneficiary of generous donations from local partner groups and other sources. Funds and services from the Friends of the National Parks at 5 Gettysburg, Eastern National, and other sources over the past four years have provided approximately $1.5 million a year.

The Gettysburg GMP includes a major partnership with the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation for fundraising, design, construction, and operation of a new Museum/Visitor Center for the park. The new facility will solve long-term park problems associated with (1) preservation of the park's museum collections, (2) preservation and display of the Cyclorama painting, (3) provision of a museum complex to provide visitors with an understanding of the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg within the context of the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, and (4) removal of two outdated visitor facilities and restoration of the historic battle landscapes upon which the buildings currently reside.

The partnership will provide infrastructure funding at Gettysburg National Military Park amounting to $68.3 million, which is the total cost to design and construct the Museum/Visitor Center facility, including museum exhibits. Conservation of the Cyclorama painting is currently underway and is estimated to cost $9 million. The Museum Foundation’s total fundraising goal is $95 million. They have secured $67.4 million to date, including $11.9 million in federal funds appropriated by Congress in FY 02, FY 03, FY 04, and FY 05. Under the agreement signed by the National Park Service and the Museum Foundation, all operations and maintenance costs for the Museum/Visitor Center will be covered by the Museum Foundation for the next 20 years. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for June 2005, assuming the Foundation has raised the $68.3 million by that time, with a projected date for opening in late 2007 or early 2008.

An older National Park Service non-profit partner is the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg (Friends). Founded in 1989, Friends is a multi-purpose park support organization with 25,000 members and supporters all over the world committed to assisting the Gettysburg and Eisenhower parks with mission-related projects in the areas of land preservation, monument preservation/ cannon-carriage restoration, education, battlefield rehabilitation and museum artifacts.

Since its inception, Friends group has donated more than $6 million to the National Parks at Gettysburg, and Friends members have logged more than 15,000 volunteer hours. Over the years, Friends of Gettysburg has acquired historically significant battlefield lands, in many cases clearing the way for the National Park Service to remove non-historic buildings and rehabilitate battlefield landscapes, most notably the fields of Pickett’s Charge and along Emmitsburg Road Ridge. They also have acquired conservation easements on historic properties in the Battlefield Historic District.

As the park’s primary partner in battlefield rehabilitation – an effort to bring back missing features that affected the fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863—Friends purchased the orchard stock for the replanting of five historic orchards on the battlefield in November 2004. For years, Friends volunteers have converged on the battlefield to rebuild historic fences, helping visitors get a better picture of the obstacles the soldiers faced during heavy fighting. Friends also acquire and donate artifacts to the park’s museum collections.

Ongoing Friends events and programs like Doors Open Gettysburg, seminars, traveling trunks, and the cannon carriage restoration shop advance the mission of the park to preserve the resources associated with the Gettysburg battlefield and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and improve the visitor’s understanding of the significance of Gettysburg. These partnership efforts benefit the parks and deepen the connection of the public to our national parks and monuments.

Finally, Gettysburg and Eisenhower’s active volunteer programs include visitor services volunteers, Adopt-a-Position volunteers, Park Watch patrol volunteers, Civil War living history volunteers, the Senior Ranger Corps, and others. Volunteers provide interpretive services, assist with maintenance and preservation projects on the battlefield, and provide Civil War living history encampments and historic weapons demonstrations, and other activities.

Independence National Historical Park

The National Park Service mission at Independence National Historical Park is to preserve and protect historical structures and properties of outstanding national significance associated with the American Revolution and the growth and founding of the United States.

The park, established on June 28, 1948, includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and other national historic landmarks. It encompasses 55 acres on 20 city blocks within the City of Philadelphia. 8

Independence is one of the most visited cultural resource sites within the National Park System. In 2004, nearly 1.9 million visitors saw the Liberty Bell, and the park recorded a total of nearly 7.3 million combined visits to all of its buildings.

The top three priorities for Independence National Historical Park are to finalize the long-term security plans for the two icons, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, in light of the City of Philadelphia's decision to re-open Chestnut Street; to complete construction of the landscape treatment for Independence Mall in accordance with the approved Mall Master Plan; and to complete the President's House Site Interpretation and Commemoration as required in previous appropriation bill language.

Over the past four years, operations funding for Independence has increased from $15,180,000 in FY 01 to $21,016,000 in FY 04 to $21,856,000 in FY 05. These increases primarily funded additional visitor services and security costs following the attacks on 9/11. Augmenting these base funds were $2.5 million from FY 01 to FY 05 for ongoing repairs and rehabilitation of facilities.

Congress has addressed the infrastructure needs of Independence National Historical Park by appropriating $17 million in the past four years in line-item construction and repair/rehabilitation project funding. $6.5 million of this was for the rehabilitation of Independence Square and $6.6 million of it was for utility and exhibit work at the Second Bank of the United States. Funding also was provided to continue work on the Independence Mall landscape project, and to replace hazardous walkways elsewhere in the park.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell have been designated by the Secretary of the Interior as key resources that merit special anti-terrorism security measures. Minimum staffing levels at these two icons have been established by the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior’s Office of Law Enforcement Services. Since 9/11, the budget for the park’s law enforcement operation has increased by approximately $5.2 million from $2.4 million to $7.6 million. These funds have been utilized to institute screening and perimeter security measures at both of these icons. This funding also provided increased visible law enforcement presence through additional park rangers and contract guards.

Independence has been at the forefront in establishing effective partnerships to provide highquality services to the visiting public. Most notably, these efforts include the jointly operated Independence Visitor Center, which recorded about 1.9 million visitors in 2004, the new National Constitution Center, which saw almost 800,000 visitors in 2004, and Historic Philadelphia, Inc., which provides costumed actors throughout the park at no cost to the NPS. These three are among the forty different partnership entities who work closely with Independence to provide quality visitor and educational services.

The Volunteer in Parks (VIP) program at Independence helps to educate visitors about the national significance of the park and contributes to the preservation of park resources. In Fiscal Year 2003, 211 volunteers logged over 13,000 hours, the equivalent of more than 7 full-time employees. The net financial benefit to the park of this volunteer effort has been estimated to be almost $200,000.

Once again, I thank you for this opportunity to testify before the committee on the status of funding at Gettysburg National Military Park, Eisenhower National Historic Site, and Independence National Historical Park. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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