Secretary Jewell Announces Obama Administration Proposal for National Park Service Centennial Legislation

Office of the Secretary
A wildflower meadow frames Mount Rainier at the national park's Paradise area
9/1/2015
Last edited 9/2/2015

Date: September 1, 2015
Contacts: Jessica Kershaw (Interior), Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov
April Slayton (National Park Service) April_Slayton@nps.gov

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that the Obama Administration is proposing legislation to honor the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2016. The National Park Service Centennial Act would further the agency’s legacy of protecting, preserving and sharing some of the Nation’s most iconic sites with all Americans. The legislation proposes further funding for critical infrastructure projects, leveraging public-private donations and partnerships to enhance visitor experiences, and expanding volunteer and job opportunities in national parks and historic sites across the country.

“This proposal acknowledges the important place our national parks have in the hearts and minds of all Americans,” Secretary Jewell said. “This Administration and this Congress have the unique opportunity to shape the second century of the National Park Service as they preserve the legacy of some of our Nation’s greatest treasures for generations to come.”

The Centennial celebration marks the National Park Service’s 100-year milestone with the goal of connecting with and creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates. In this Second Century of stewardship to America’s national parks, the National Park Service will continue its mission to help communities across the Nation preserve local history, celebrate local heritage, revitalize communities and create close-to-home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active and have fun.

“The National Park Service is celebrating the accomplishments of our first 100 years, but more importantly, we’re looking ahead to our next 100 years,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “This legislation gives us an opportunity to modernize our tools and meet the century-old mandate to protect, preserve and share with the American people the diverse and special places in our care.” 

In 2014, national parks experienced a record-breaking 292.8 million visits, which translated into $29.7 billion in economic activity that supported nearly 277,000 jobs across the country.

The proposal, which would require action by Congress in order to be enacted, would provide new resources to help revitalize our national parks, upgrade park facilities, and connect a new, diverse generation to the great outdoors.  

Key provisions include:

  • Providing funding for signature Centennial projects to make necessary improvements to park infrastructure; to establish a Second Century fund that will encourage philanthropic support for NPS programs and projects; and to establish a Second Century Endowment held by the National Park Foundation to help it leverage private donations for NPS projects and programs.
     
  • Strengthening the National Park Service’s capacity to provide visitor services and protecting the special places in its care by expanding eligibility for young people to participate in the Public Lands Corp, which will extend the timeline for direct-hire authority through that program. As a result, the National Park Service will be able to recruit and hire more young and diverse Americans.
     
  • Allowing for increased funding to support the National Park Service’s Volunteers in the Park program by removing the authorization ceiling. Last year, the program engaged at least 247,000 people who volunteered nearly 6.7 million hours of time.
     
  • Ensuring that the National Park Service has the tools to carry out education programs that meet the needs and interests of a changing American demographic.
     
  • Allowing the National Park Service to use additional contracting tools, which are more consistent with industry practices, to contract with commercial visitor service providers for lodging, food and beverage, and other visitor services.

Earlier this year, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation announced the launch of Find Your Park, a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary. First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush are serving as honorary co-chairs to promote the celebration of the 2016 centennial and to encourage people to connect with their favorite parks and public lands.
 
For more information about the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration, visit their website.