National Park Management
National Park Management
Updated August 15, 2008
Carol Hardy Vincent, Coordinator, and Ross W. Gorte
Specialists in Natural Resources Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Sandra L. Johnson
Information Research Specialist
Knowledge Services Group
National Park Management
The 110th Congress is considering legislation and conducting oversight on
National Park Service (NPS) related topics. The Administration is addressing park
issues through budgetary, regulatory, and other actions. This report focuses on
several key topics.
Centennial Initiative. President Bush’s National Park Centennial Initiative
seeks to add up to $3 billion for national park units over 10 years through: (1) an
additional $100.0 million annually in discretionary funds; (2) public donations of
least $100.0 million annually; and (3) a federal match of the public donations with
up to $100.0 million annually. Legislation to establish a mandatory matching
program along the lines of the President’s initiative has been introduced (H.R. 2959
and S. 1253), while H.R. 3094 and S. 2817 would take a different approach.
Maintenance Backlog. Attention has focused on the NPS’s maintenance
backlog. Estimates of the backlog have increased from an average of $4.25 billion
in FY1999 to $9.61 billion in FY2007; it is unclear what portion may be attributable
to better estimates or the addition of maintenance work not done on time. The NPS
has been defining and quantifying its maintenance needs through comprehensive
condition assessments of facilities. The results are being used in part to determine
the allocation of maintenance funding and to identify assets for disposal. H.R. 1731
seeks to eliminate the NPS annual operating deficit and maintenance backlog.
Science in the Parks. Various science-related activities pertain to park
management. One involves monitoring and protecting air quality — the regional
haze issue. Another is possible commercialization (bio-prospecting) of unique
organisms found in some park units. The NPS is developing a proposal on benefits
sharing — agreements for using the results of research on organisms in parks. A
third science-related issue is research in the parks. The NPS receives funds for
natural and cultural research programs.
Security. The NPS has sought to enhance security of park units, with efforts
focused on national icons and park units along international borders. Evaluations of
park police and security operations have been mixed. Several bills pertaining to
immigration reform and border security contain provisions to enhance security at
park units along U.S. borders. The President is seeking additional funding for
FY2009 for park police and law enforcement.
Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Wild and Scenic Rivers System preserves free-
flowing rivers, which are designated by Congress or through state nomination with
approval by the Secretary of the Interior. The NPS manages 37 river units, totaling
prepare management plans to protect river values. Management of lands within river
corridors is sometimes controversial, in part because of the possible effects of
designation on private lands and of corridor activities on the rivers. P.L. 110-229
established the Eightmile Wild and Scenic River. Legislation has been introduced
to designate, study, or extend components of the system.
In troduction ......................................................1
Science in the Parks............................................8
Wild and Scenic Rivers ........................................11
List of Tables
Table 1. Wild and Scenic River Bills Introduced in the 110th Congress.......14
National Park Management
The National Park System is perhaps the federal land best known to the public.
The National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) manages
391 units, including units formally entitled national parks and a host of other
designations.1 The system has more than 84 million acres.2 The NPS had an
appropriation of about $2.39 billion for FY2008. For FY2009, the Administration
requested $2.40 billion. FY2009 appropriations have not been enacted to date. The
NPS estimates its level of employment at 20,739 FTEs for FY2008, and seeks
funding for 21,649 FTEs for FY2009.3
The NPS statutory mission is multifaceted: to conserve, preserve, protect, and
interpret the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the nation for the public, and
to provide for their use and enjoyment by the public. The use and preservation of
resources has appeared to some as contradictory and has resulted in management
challenges. Attention centers on how to balance the recreational use of parklands
with the preservation of park resources, and determine appropriate levels and sources
of funding to maintain NPS facilities and to manage NPS programs. In general,
activities that harvest or remove resources from units of the system are not allowed.
The NPS also supports the preservation of natural and historic places and promotes
recreation outside the system through grant and technical assistance programs.
The establishment of several national parks preceded the 1916 creation of the
National Park Service (NPS) as the park system management agency. Congress
established the nation’s first national park — Yellowstone National Park — in 1872.
The park was created in the then-territories of Montana and Wyoming “for the
benefit and enjoyment of the people,” and placed “under the exclusive control of the
Secretary of the Interior” (16 U.S.C. §§ 21-22). In the 1890s and early 1900s,
Congress created several other national parks mostly from western public domain
lands, including Sequoia, Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Glacier. In
1 Descriptions of the different designations are on the NPS website at [http://www.
nps.gov/legacy/]. Brief information on each unit is contained in U.S. Dept. of the Interior,
National Park Service, The National Parks: Index 2005-2007 (Washington, DC: 2005).
2 This figure includes an estimated 79 million acres of federal land, 1 million acres of other
public land, and 4 million acres of private land within unit boundaries. NPS policy is to
acquire these nonfederal inholdings from willing sellers, as funds are available, or to create
special agreements to encourage landowners to sell.
3 A full-time equivalent (FTE) is the staffing of federal civilian employee positions
expressed in annual productive work hours, according to the Office of Management and
Budget. These statistics on FTEs are taken from Fiscal Year 2009, The Interior Budget in
Brief, p. BH-71, available at [http://www.doi.gov/budget/].
addition to the desire to preserve nature, there was interest in promoting tourism.
Western railroads, often recipients of vast public land grants, were advocates of many
of the early parks and built grand hotels in them to support their business.
There also were efforts to protect the sites and structures of early Native
American cultures and other special sites. The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized
the President to proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain “historic
landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or
scientific interest” (16 U.S.C. § 431). Most national monuments are managed by the
NPS. (For more information, see CRS Report RS20902, National Monument Issues,
by Carol Hardy Vincent.)
There was no system of national parks and monuments until 1916, when
President Wilson signed a law creating the NPS to manage and protect the national
parks and many of the monuments. That Organic Act provided that the NPS “shall
promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks,
monuments, and reservations ... to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic
objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such
manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future
generations” (16 U.S.C. § 1). President Franklin D. Roosevelt greatly expanded the
system of parks in 1933 by transferring 63 national monuments and historic military
sites from the USDA Forest Service and the War Department to the NPS.
The 110th Congress is considering legislation or conducting oversight on many
NPS-related topics. Several major topics are covered in this report: proposals to
enhance NPS funding before the agency’s 2016 centennial; the NPS maintenance
backlog; science-related activities at national park units; security of NPS units and
lands; and management of wild and scenic rivers, which are administered by the NPS
or another land management agency.
While in some cases the topics covered are relevant to other federal lands and
agencies, this report does not comprehensively cover topics primarily affecting other
lands/agencies. For background on federal land management generally, see CRS
Report RL32393, Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and
Resources Management, coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent. Overview information
on numerous natural resource issues, focused on resource use and protection, is
provided in CRS Report RL33806, Natural Resources Policy: Management,
Institutions, and Issues, coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent, Nicole T. Carter, and
Julie Jennings. Information on appropriations for the NPS is included in CRS Report
RL34461, Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations,
coordinated by Carol Hardy Vincent. Information on BLM and Forest Service lands
is contained in CRS Report RL33792, Federal Lands Managed by the Bureau of
Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS): Issues for the 110th
Congress, by Ross W. Gorte, Carol Hardy Vincent, Marc Humphries, and Kristina
Several other NPS-related topics are covered in other CRS reports. For
example, how national park units are created and what qualities make an area eligible
to be an NPS unit are of continuing interest. (For more information, see CRS Report
RS20158, National Park System: Establishing New Units, by Carol Hardy Vincent.)
Legislation has been considered in recent Congresses to study, designate, and fund
particular National Heritage Areas (NHAs) as well as to establish a process and
criteria for designating and managing NHAs. (For more information, see CRS
Report RL33462, Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues, by
Carol Hardy Vincent and David L. Whiteman.) Recent decades have witnessed
increased demand for a variety of recreational opportunities on federal lands and
waters. New forms of motorized recreation have gained in popularity, and the use
of motorized off-highway vehicles (OHVs) has been particularly contentious. (For
more information, see CRS Report RL33525, Recreation on Federal Lands,
coordinated by Kori Calvert and Carol Hardy Vincent.)
Centennial Initiative (by Carol Hardy Vincent)
To be ready for the NPS’s 100th anniversary in 2016, the Administration and
Congress have proposed multi-year initiatives to strengthen visitor services and other
park programs. The National Park Centennial Initiative, first announced by President
Bush in August 2006, seeks to add up to $3 billion in new funds for the parks over
(1) a commitment to add $100.0 million annually in discretionary funds; (2) a
challenge for the public to donate at least $100.0 million annually; and (3) a
commitment to match the public donations with federal funds of up to $100.0 million
In furtherance of the first component of the initiative, for FY2009 the
Administration requested additional funds within the line item “Operation of the
National Park System.” Specifically, the Administration is seeking a total of $2.13
billion in park operations for FY2009, an increase of $160.9 million over the FY2008
level of $1.97 billion. FY2009 appropriations for NPS programs have not been
enacted to date. The Administration also had sought, and received, an increase in
park operations for FY2008, the first year of the centennial initiative.
For the third component of the initiative, the President proposed establishing a
mandatory program with $100.0 million annually for 10 years to match private
donations. Companion legislation (H.R. 2959 and S. 1253) has been introduced to
create a mandatory program along the lines of the President’s initiative. The bills
would establish the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund in the Treasury
consisting of cash donations and matching appropriations from the general fund of
the Treasury. The match may not exceed $100.0 million for each of 10 years
beginning with FY2008. The funds are available, without further appropriation, to
finance “signature projects and programs.” These projects and programs will be
identified by the NPS Director as helping prepare the national parks for another
century of conservation, preservation, and enjoyment.
Another House bill (H.R. 3094) also would establish a National Park Centennial
Fund in the Treasury, but would take a different approach. It would consist of $30.0
million annually over 10 years. The funds would be available beginning with
FY2009, and would be available without further appropriation. The Administration
is to include a list of proposals for funding in its annual budget submissions to
Congress. The proposals must be consistent with certain criteria and initiatives set
out in the bill. The bill specifies seven park initiatives, in the areas of education,
diversity, support for park professionals, environmental leadership, natural resource
protection, cultural resource protection, and health and fitness. No matching funds
would be required, but the Secretary of the Interior may accept donations for
centennial projects and programs. The bill also provides a $30.0 million “offset for
the Centennial Fund by repealing Section 9 of the Land and Water Conservation
Fund Act.”4 That provision of law currently provides $30.0 million of annual
contract authority for federal land acquisitions.5 In its cost estimate on the bill, the
Congressional Budget Office estimates that “this provision would have no effect on
direct spending because that contract authority is not presently used by the NPS, and
CBO does not expect that it will be over the 2009-2018 period.”6
A central issue of debate has been how to finance the Centennial Fund. Under
H.R. 3094 as introduced, the Centennial Fund was to consist of $100.0 million
annually, with the funds derived from fees for commercial activities on DOI lands.
The Secretary of the Interior would have been required to promulgate regulations to
establish new fees or increase existing fees for commercial activities, including
leases. Another approach was proposed during the markup of the bill by the
Committee on Natural Resources. An amendment was offered to “open the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to energy production to pay for the Centennial Fund.”7
That amendment was not agreed to.
Still another financing mechanism is contained in S. 2817, which would
establish a Centennial Fund with $100.0 million annually, essentially over 10 years.
Section 8 of the bill, entitled “Offsets,” provides for financing the fund with certain
revenues from offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico and from the
establishment and sale of special postage stamps. Like H.R. 3094, the bill also
contains provisions requiring the Administration to submit annually a list of
proposals for funding, which must be consistent with certain criteria and seven
initiatives, and allows the Secretary of the Interior to accept donations for projects
House and Senate committees have held hearings on these legislative proposals.
One issue of discussion has been the role of philanthropic, corporate, foundation, and
4 House Committee on Natural Resources, National Park Centennial Fund Act, H.Rept. 110-
5 For many years, the annual Interior appropriations laws typically have rescinded this
authority for the pertinent fiscal year. In the FY2009 NPS budget submission, the
Administration proposed permanently canceling this contract authority.
6 H.Rept. 110-795, p. 12.
7 H.Rept. 110-795, p. 5.
8 Another House bill (H.R. 1731) to establish a National Park Centennial Fund is described
in the Maintenance Backlog section. A primary intent of the fund would be to eliminate the
NPS maintenance backlog.
other private donors in raising money for the parks. Some observers believe that
non-federal funding has been successful in expanding and enhancing a variety of
important park programs and is necessary to supplement a shortfall in federal
appropriations. Other observers are concerned that non-federal funding will lead to
commercialization of national parks and excessive private influence over park
operations. Related issues of debate at the hearings included whether to first seek
private contributions and then provide a federal match, whether to provide federal
funding without a private matching requirement, and whether to allow non-cash
contributions. Other issues of discussion were how to finance the Centennial Fund;
the role of the NPS and Congress in determining projects eligible for funding; and
which, if any, categories of funding (e.g., natural resource protection) to specify in
In furtherance of the third component of the Administration’s initiative, the
FY2008 appropriations law (P.L. 110-161) included $24.6 million to match private
donations. On April 24, 2008, the NPS released a list of 110 projects that would be
eligible to receive this funding, together with $26.9 million in partnership
contributions.9 The Appropriations Committees and the Administration have
expressed that the FY2008 appropriation is interim funding to initiate the program,
and an expectation that legislation will be enacted to create a ten year program. The
Administration has not requested an annual appropriation for this matching program,
but rather seeks $100.0 million per year in mandatory funding.
The FY2009 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 70) contains a deficit-neutral reserve
fund for the National Park Centennial Fund. It would allow the Chairman of the
House Committee on the Budget to make adjustments to the amounts in the budget
resolution to accommodate legislation establishing the Centennial Fund, so long as
that legislation were deficit neutral.
Maintenance Backlog (by Carol Hardy Vincent)
The NPS has maintenance responsibility for buildings, trails, recreation sites,
and other infrastructure. There is debate over the levels of funds to maintain this
infrastructure, whether to use funds from other programs, and how to balance the
maintenance of the existing infrastructure with the acquisition of new assets.
Congress continues to focus on the agency’s deferred maintenance, often called the
maintenance backlog — essentially maintenance that was not done when scheduled
or planned. DOI estimates deferred maintenance for the NPS for FY2007, based on
varying assumptions, at between $6.12 billion and $13.11 billion with a mid-range
figure of $9.61 billion. Fifty-six percent of the total deferred maintenance was for
roads, bridges, and trails, 19% was for buildings, and 25% was for other structures.
While the other federal land management agencies — the Forest Service (FS),
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) — also
have maintenance backlogs, congressional and administrative attention has centered
on the NPS backlog. For FY2007, the FS estimated its backlog at $5.66 billion,
9 A list of the approved projects and programs is on the NPS website at
while DOI estimated the FWS backlog at between $2.24 billion and $3.03 billion and
the BLM backlog at between $0.38 billion and $0.46 billion. The four agencies
together had a combined backlog estimated at between $14.39 billion and $22.26
billion, with a mid-range figure of $18.33 billion, according to the agencies.10 The
NPS and other agency backlogs have been attributed to decades of funding shortfalls.
The agencies assert that continuing to defer maintenance of facilities accelerates their
rate of deterioration, increases their repair costs, and decreases their value.
For FY2009, the Administration proposed $471.5 million for total maintenance,
including cyclic (regular) and deferred maintenance. FY2009 appropriations have
not been enacted to date. The request would be an increase of 10% from the $430.3
million appropriated for FY2008. The Administration’s budget focused on funds for
cyclic maintenance, with a request for an additional $22.8 million for this purpose.
The Administration is seeking these funds as a way to prevent deterioration of
facilities, which increases the maintenance backlog. However, the budget did not
specify the total portions of the maintenance request for deferred maintenance and
for cyclic maintenance.
According to the DOI Budget Office, the Administration is seeking $189.7
million for NPS deferred maintenance for FY2009. The appropriation for FY2008
was $222.1 million, about the same level as ten years ago — $223.0 million for
FY1999. Over the ten year period, the appropriation peaked in FY2002 at $364.2
million.11 Other funding for deferred maintenance is provided through the NPS
construction appropriation, fee receipts, and the Highway Trust Fund. It is not
possible to determine the total requested or appropriated for deferred maintenance for
FY2009 from public documents.
DOI estimates of the NPS backlog have increased from an average of $4.25
billion in FY1999 to an average of $9.61 billion in FY2007. It is unclear what
portion of the change is due to the addition of maintenance work that was not done
on time or the availability of more precise estimates of the backlog. Further, it is
unclear how much total funding has been provided for backlogged maintenance over
this period. Annual presidential budget requests and appropriations laws typically
do not specify funds for backlogged maintenance, but instead combine funding for
all NPS construction, facility operation, and regular and deferred maintenance.
In FY2002, the Bush Administration had proposed to eliminate the NPS backlog
(estimated at $4.9 billion in 2002) over five years. The NPS budget justification for
FY2008 stated that there had been an “almost $5 billion federal investment in
addressing the facility maintenance backlog.”12 The figure reflected total
appropriations for line items of which deferred maintenance is only a part.
Specifically, according to the NPS, it consisted of appropriations for all NPS facility
10 Estimates are from DOI and the FS, and reflect only direct project costs in accordance
with requirements of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board.
11 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Office of Budget, Internal Memorandum (Washington, DC),
received March 11, 2008.
12 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Budget Justifications and Performance
Information, Fiscal Year 2008 (Washington, DC: 2007), p. Overview-2.
maintenance, NPS construction, and the NPS park roads and parkway program
funded through the Federal Highway Administration. It also included fee receipts
used for maintenance.
The NPS has been defining and quantifying its maintenance needs. These
efforts, like those of other land management agencies, include developing
computerized systems for tracking and prioritizing maintenance projects and
collecting comprehensive data on the condition of facilities. The first cycle of
comprehensive condition assessments of NPS facilities was completed by the end of
FY2006. The NPS uses two industry standard measurements of its facilities. The
“Asset Priority Index” (API) is a rating of each asset’s importance to the NPS
mission. The “Facility Condition Index” (FCI) quantifies the condition of a facility
by dividing the deferred maintenance backlog by the current replacement value of the
facility. These ratings are used in part to determine the allocation of maintenance
funding among NPS facilities. They also are used to determine whether to retain
assets given their condition and uses. The NPS, like the other land management
agencies, is identifying for disposal assets that are not critical to the agency’s mission
and that are in relatively poor condition, as one way to reduce the maintenance
Legislation relating to the maintenance backlog of the NPS has been
reintroduced in the 110th Congress. H.R. 1731 seeks to eliminate the annual
operating deficit and maintenance backlog in the National Park System by the 2016
centennial anniversary of the NPS. The bill proposes the creation of the National
Park Centennial Fund in the Treasury, to be comprised of monies designated by
taxpayers on their tax returns. If monies from tax returns are insufficient to meet
funding levels established in the bill, they are to be supplemented by contributions
to the Centennial Fund from the General Fund of the Treasury. For FY2008, there
would be deposited in the Centennial Fund $200.0 million, with an increase of 15%
each year though FY2016. The fund is to be available to the Secretary of the Interior,
without further appropriation, as follows: 60% to eliminate the NPS maintenance
backlog, 20% to protect NPS natural resources, and 20% to protect NPS cultural
resources. After October 1, 2016, money in the Centennial Fund is to be used to
supplement annual appropriations for park operations. The bill also would require
the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit to Congress biennial reports
on the progress of Congress in eliminating the NPS deficit in operating funds and on
the funding needs of national parks compared with park appropriations, among other
Three bills that are on the Senate calendar also relate to the NPS maintenance
backlog. S. 2807 and S. 2809 provide that the designation of a National Heritage
Area shall not take effect until the President certifies that (1) the designation will not
cause specific adverse impacts, and (2) the total NPS deferred maintenance backlog
in the state in which the NHA is proposed is not greater than $50.0 million. S. 2807,
as well as S. 2810, also contains provisions regarding the maintenance backlog of
federal agencies generally. They seek to require that an annual report regarding the
13 Other legislation to create a National Park Centennial Fund is discussed above in the
section entitled “Centennial Initiative.”
amount and cost of federally owned land be available to the public on the web. The
report is to include the “estimated costs to the Federal Government of the
maintenance backlog of each Federal agency,” including an aggregate cost and the
cost of buildings and structures.
Science in the Parks (by Ross W. Gorte)
Various science-related issues pertain to park management. One involves
monitoring and protecting air quality — the regional haze issue. In the 1977
amendments to the Clean Air Act, Congress established a national goal of protecting
Class I areas — most then-existing national parks and wilderness areas — from
future visibility impairment and remedying any existing impairment resulting from
manmade air pollution. (Newly designated parks and wilderness areas can be
classified as Class I only by state actions; they do not automatically become Class I
areas.) One program to control this “regional haze” is the Prevention of Significant
Deterioration (PSD) program. It provides that permits may not be issued to major
new facilities within 100 kilometers of a Class I area if federal land managers, such
as those at the NPS, assert that the emissions “may cause or contribute to a change
in the air quality” in a Class I area (42 U.S.C. § 7457). In June 2007,14 the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency proposed changes in the PSD rules, "to refine
several aspects of the method that may be used" to determine whether air quality in
Class I areas would be degraded by a proposed activity. Proponents of the change
contend that current rules are excessively restrictive; opponents assert that the change
would allow increased emissions from coal-fired power plants in Class I areas.
The NPS monitors one or more air quality indicators at 60 park units and uses
data from numerous state and local air quality monitoring stations located close to
park units. From these combined sources, the NPS rated 141 park units in its 2006
performance report, covering the period 1996-2005, and concluded that 86% of the
units showed stable or improving air quality trends generally, 82% met national
ambient air quality standards, and 97% met visibility goals.15 In August 2006, the
National Parks Conservation Association released a new report asserting that “air
pollution is among the most serious and wide-ranging problems facing the parks
today.... We’ve made some important advances ... but much more remains to be
done.”16 The report includes 10 recommendations to improve air quality in the
National Park System.
Another science-related issue is possible commercialization (bio-prospecting)
of unique organisms found in some NPS units (notably Yellowstone National Park).
The NPS completed a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on benefits-
sharing (agreements for using the results of research on organisms in the parks) in
14 72 Fed. Reg. 31371-31399 (June 6, 2007).
15 See the Final October 2007 report, 2006 Annual Performance and Progress Report: Air
Quality in National Parks, available via the NPS website at [http://www2.nature.nps.
gov/air/Pubs/pdf/gpra/GPRA_AQ_ConditionsTrendReport2006.pdf]. For information on
NPS air quality resources, see [http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/index.cfm].
16 National Parks Conservation Association, Turning Point, p. 4, available on the web at
September 2006. The preferred alternative would require researchers to enter into
a benefits-sharing agreement before using research results for commercial purposes.
The public comment period closed on January 29, 2007.17 To date, a final EIS and
record of decision have not been issued.
A third science-related issue is research in the parks. NPS support for natural
resources includes research on air quality, cooperative ecosystem studies units, and
research learning centers. Additional research is conducted in many parks, although
“parks do not have specific funds allocated for research, but may choose to fund
individual projects in any given year.”18 Funding for natural resources research
support has risen modestly in recent years, from $9.3 million in FY2002 to $10.2
million for FY2008. For FY2009, the Administration requested $10.3 million;
FY2009 appropriations for NPS programs have not been enacted to date. The Park
Service also conducts cultural resources applied research, including archaeological
resource inventories; reports on cultural landscapes and on historic and prehistoric
structures; museum collections; and ethnographic and historical research. Funding
has risen in recent years, from $18.0 million in FY2002 to $19.9 million for FY2008.
The Administration requested $20.3 million for FY2009. The completeness and
adequacy of these programs and funds to address Park Service research needs and
performance is unclear. Congress funds both these natural and cultural research
programs as part of NPS Resource Stewardship (under Operation of the National
Park System). For FY2008, a total of $373.0 million was appropriated for NPS
Resource Stewardship. The Administration is seeking $410.4 million for FY2009.
Security (by Carol Hardy Vincent)
Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the NPS
has sought to enhance its ability to prepare for and respond to threats from terrorists
and others. Activities have focused on security enhancements at national icons and
along the U.S. borders, where several parks are located. According to the NPS, the
United States Park Police (USPP) has sought to expand physical security assessments
of monuments, memorials, and other facilities, and increase patrols and security
precautions in Washington monument areas, at the Statue of Liberty, and at other
potentially vulnerable icons. Other activities have included implementing additional
training in terrorism response for agency personnel, and reducing the backlog of
needed specialized equipment and vehicles. NPS law enforcement rangers and
special agents have expanded patrols, use of electronic monitoring equipment,
intelligence monitoring, and training in preemptive and response measures, according
to the agency. The NPS has taken measures to increase security and protection along
international borders and to curb illegal immigration and drug traffic through park
17 71 Fed. Reg. 56168 (September 26, 2006). The EIS is available on the NPS website, at
[http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm? p a r kId =442&proj ectId=12515
18 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Budget Justifications and Performance
Information, Fiscal Year 2008 (Washington, DC: 2007), p. ONPS-11-12.
A February 2008 assessment of the USPP by the DOI Inspector General
identified weaknesses in the management and operations of park police that adversely
affect security at national icons.19 The report stated that USPP “officials continue to
state that icon security is a top priority; however, their actions indicate otherwise.”20
It stated that there is not a comprehensive icon security program, and recommended
the hiring of a senior-level security professional to oversee security of all icons as
well as other certified security professionals for each icon park. Other
recommendations included development of formal asset security plans, establishment
of a training program for personnel responsible for protecting icons, and an upgrade
of closed circuit television surveillance camera systems as well as an increase in
personnel monitoring them. Over the past several years, other entities have evaluated
park police and security operations. For instance, a June 2005 GAO report examined
the challenges for DOI in protecting national icons and monuments from terrorism,
and actions and improvements the department has taken in response.21 GAO
concluded that since 2001, DOI has improved security at key sites, created a central
security office to coordinate security efforts, developed physical security plans, and
established a uniform risk management and ranking methodology. GAO
recommended that DOI link its rankings to security funding priorities at national
icons and monuments and establish guiding principles to balance its core mission
with security needs.
Legislation pertaining to immigration reform and border security contains
provisions affecting national park units along U.S. borders. For example, S. 1269
provides for the construction of a fence and other barriers along the southern border.
The Secretary of Homeland Security is to create and control a border zone consisting
of U.S. land within 100 yards of the border. The heads of the NPS and of other
agencies that manage lands along the border are to transfer land to the Secretary of
Homeland Security without reimbursement. S. 330 and S. 1348 call for a study of
the construction of physical barriers along the southern border of the United States,
including their effect on park units along the borders. S. 1348, S. 1639, and H.R.
1645 would increase customs and border protection personnel to secure park units
(and other federal land) along U.S. borders; provide surveillance camera systems,
sensors, and other equipment for lands on the border, with priority for NPS units
(under S. 1348 and H.R. 1645); and require a recommendation to Congress for the
NPS and other agencies to recover costs related to illegal border activity. These three
bills, as well as S. 2366, S. 2368, and H.R. 4088, also would require the development
of a border protection strategy that protects NPS units (and other federal land areas).
S. 2366, S. 2368, and H.R. 4088 also authorize the employment of additional law
enforcement officers and special agents by DOI. In June 2007, the Senate considered
S. 1348 and S. 1639 but did not vote on final passage because cloture was not
19 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Office of Inspector General, Assessment of the United States
Park Police (Washington, DC: February 2008). See [http://www.doioig.gov/].
20 Ibid., p. 6.
21 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Homeland Security: Actions Needed to Better
Protect National Icons and Federal Office Buildings from Terrorism, GAO-05-790
(Washington, DC: June 2005). See [http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05790.pdf].
The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 included provisions on
fencing along the southwest border (P.L. 110-161, Division E, § 564). Specifically,
the law required the Secretary of Homeland Security to construct fencing along not
less than 700 miles of the southwest border where it “would be most practical and
effective.” The law further required the Secretary to provide for additional physical
barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors “to gain operational control” to
enhance control along the border. 22
Other issues of recent interest have included the damage of illegal border
activities to federal lands; how to reduce harm from illegal border activities; efforts
of various agencies to secure federal lands along the borders; implementation of a
memorandum of understanding among the Departments of Homeland Security,
Interior, and Agriculture on initiatives to improve handling of illegal border activities
and their impacts on federal lands; and the demands on law enforcement personnel
of the federal land management agencies. Illegal activities at issue have included
drug trafficking, alien smuggling, money laundering, organized crime, and terrorism.
Such activities are reported to have damaged federal lands, including by creating
illegal roads, depositing large amounts of trash and human waste, increasing risk of
fire from poorly tended camp fires, destroying vegetation and cultural resources, and
polluting waterways. The effects on federal lands of border enforcement activities
in response to illegal immigration also have been examined.
Congress appropriates funds to the NPS for security efforts, and the adequacy
and use of funds to protect NPS visitors and units are of continuing interest. Funds
for security are appropriated through multiple line items, including those for the
USPP and Law Enforcement and Protection. For FY2009, the President requested
$94.4 million for the USPP, a 9% increase over FY2008 ($86.7 million). The
increase would be used primarily to hire new officers. The President also requested
$169.8 million for law enforcement in FY2009, a 10% increase over the $154.7
million appropriated for FY2008. A portion of the increase is to enhance law
enforcement at park units along the southwest border that are addressing resource
damage and safety issues resulting from illegal immigration. The increase also is
intended to enhance protection of 11 historic structures and approximately 100
archaeological sites. FY2009 appropriations have not been enacted to date.
Wild and Scenic Rivers (by Sandra L. Johnson)
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was authorized on October 2,
1968, by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 1271-1287).23 The act
established a policy of preserving designated free-flowing rivers for the benefit and
enjoyment of present and future generations, to complement the then-current national
policy of constructing dams and other structures along many rivers. The act requires
that river units be classified and administered as wild, scenic, or recreational rivers,
22 For further information on the border fence, see CRS Report RL33659, Border Security:
Barriers Along the U.S. International Border, by Blas Nuñez-Neto and Yule Kim.
23 The text of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is available on the NPS website at
[ h t t p : / / www.r i ve r s .gov/ ws r a c t .ht ml ] .
based on the condition of the river, the amount of development in the river or on the
shorelines, and the degree of accessibility by road or trail at the time of designation.
Typically rivers are added to the system by an act of Congress, but they also may
be added by state nomination with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
Congress initially designated 789 miles of eight rivers as part of the system. Today
there are 166 river units with 11,434.2 miles in 38 states and Puerto Rico,
administered by the NPS, other federal agencies, and several state agencies.24 The
NPS manages 37 of these river units, totaling 3,043.7 miles.25 Congress also
commonly enacts legislation to authorize the study of particular rivers for potential
inclusion in the system. The NPS maintains a national registry of rivers that may be
eligible for inclusion in the system — the Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI).26
Congress may consider, among other sources, these NRI rivers, which are believed
to possess “outstandingly remarkable” values.27 The Secretaries of the Interior and
Agriculture are to report to the President as to the suitability of study areas for wild
and scenic designation. The President then submits recommendations regarding
designation to Congress.
Wild and scenic rivers designated by Congress generally are managed by one
of the four federal land management agencies — NPS, FWS, BLM, and FS.
Management varies with the class of the designated river and the values for which
it was included in the system. Components of the system managed by the NPS
become a part of the National Park System. The act requires the managing agency
of each component of the system to prepare a comprehensive management plan to
protect river values. The managing agency also establishes boundaries for each
component of the system, within limitations. Management of lands within river
corridors has been controversial in some cases, with debates over the effect of
designation on private lands within the river corridors, the impact of activities within
a corridor on the flow or character of the designated river segment, and the extent of
local input in developing management plans.
State-nominated rivers may be added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers
System only if the river is designated for protection under state law, is approved by
the Secretary of the Interior, and is permanently administered by a state agency.
Management of state-nominated rivers may be complicated because of the diversity
of land ownership.
The 110th Congress is considering legislation to designate, study, or extend
components of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Such measures are shown in
Table 1. The table includes bills that could involve management by the NPS or other
agencies. On May 8, 2008, segments of the Eightmile River in Connecticut were
designated (§344, P.L. 110-229) as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers
25 These figures reflect both exclusive and shared NPS management of river units.
26 For further information on the Nationwide Rivers Inventory, see the NPS website at
27 16 U.S.C. §1271(b).
System. The law requires the Secretary of the Interior to administer segments of the
main stem and specified tributaries of the Eightmile River, totaling about 25.3 miles,
as a scenic river.
The 109th Congress enacted legislation to designate, study, or extend specific
components of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Upper White Salmon Wild
and Scenic Rivers Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-44) adds a 20-mile portion of the river to
the system. The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act (CA)
(P.L. 109-362) designates 21 miles in three segments of the Black Butte River as
wild and scenic river components. The Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook
Wild and Scenic River Study Act (P.L. 109-370) directs the NPS to conduct a
feasibility study to evaluate whether the 40-mile stretch of the lower Farmington
River and Salmon Brook (CT) would qualify for possible inclusion in the system.
Several other 109th Congress bills passed the House or Senate but were not enacted
Table 1. Wild and Scenic River Bills Introduced in the 110th Congress
Title or RiverTypeBill No.Status
Alaska Rainforest Conservation Act (designatesDesig.H.R. 3757Introduced
river segments in the Tongass National Forest,
Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and WildDesig.H.R. 4113 Introduced
Pratt River Act of 2007 (WA)
California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act ofDesig.H.R. 3682Referred to Sen.
County, CA) Hearing Held
California Wild Heritage Act of 2007Desig./H.R. 860Introduced
(designates CA river segments; study CarsonStudyS. 493Introduced
River, East Fork, CA)
Chetco River, Oregon (OR)TechnicalH.R. 6726Introduced
Copper Salmon Wilderness ActDesig.H.R. 3513Senate Calendar
(designates river segments of the North andS. 2034Senate Calendar
South Forks of the Elk River, OR)
Craig Thomas Snake Headwaters Legacy Act ofDesig.S. 1281 Senate Calendar
Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel WildDesig.H.R. 6156Introduced
Heritage Act (designates river segments inS. 3069Hearing Held
Eightmile Wild and Scenic River (CT)Desig. S. 2739P.L. 110-229
Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River Act (AZ)Desig.H.R. 199Introduced
S. 86Senate Calendar
Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Act ofDesig.S. 647Senate Calendar
2007 (Senate) and Lewis and Clark Mt. HoodH.R. 6290Introduced
Wilderness Act of 2008 (House) (designates
waterways in the Mt. Hood National Forest, OR)
Lower Rogue Wild and Scenic Rivers Act ofDesig.S. 3149Introduced
Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and ScenicStudyH.R. 3667House Calendar
River Study Act (VT)S. 2093Hearing Held
Natural Resource Projects and ProgramsDesig.S. 2180Indefinitely Postponed
Authorization Act of 2007 (designates river
segments in the Mt. Hood National Forest, OR)
New River Wild and Scenic River Act of 2007Desig.S. 1057Hearing Held
(designates NC and VA river segments)
Title or RiverTypeBill No.Status
Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection ActDesig.H.R. 1975Hearing Held
(designates ID, MT, and WY river segments)
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008 Desig.S. 3213Senate Calendar
(designates rivers segments in Mt. Hood and
Elk River, OR; Owyhee, ID; Fossil Creek, AZ;
Snake River, WY; Taunton River, MA)
Oregon Caves National Monument BoundaryDesig.S. 3148Hearing Held
Adjustment Act of 2008 (designates six
segments of rivers within the boundaries of the
proposed transfer of land) (OR)
Oregon Treasures Act of 2008 (designates riverDesig.H.R. 6291Introduced
segments of Cave Creek) (OR)
Owyhee Initiative Implementation Act of 2007Desig.S. 802Introduced
Owyhee Public Land Management Act of 2008Desig.S. 2833Senate Calendar
Perquimans River Wild and Scenic River StudyStudyH.R. 3139Introduced
Act of 2007 (NC)S. 2357Introduced
Protecting America’s Wild Places Act of 2008Desig.H.R. 5610Introduced
(designates river segments in Riverside County,
CA, and Elk River, OR)
Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River ExtensionExtendH.R. 6177Ordered Reported
Act of 2008 (TX)
Taunton River (MA)Desig.H.R. 415Senate Calendar
S. 868Senate Calendar
Washington County Growth and ConservationDesig.S. 2834Hearing Held
Act of 2008(designates river segments within
and adjacent to Zion National Park) (UT)