The omnibus spending bill awaiting full Senate action calls for $2.39 billion for the National Park Service in FY08 (which started this past October).
The House of Representatives had proposed $2,047,809,000 for NPS operations, while the Senate had proposed $1,958,687,000, so the $2,001,809,000 in the bill is a compromise. Still, according to a Park Service analysis of the omnibus bill, the legislation contains a $153.4 million increase in the agency's operations budget. That amount includes $100 million that the president wanted to go towards preparing the Park Service for its centennial in 2016.
Overall, the entire NPS budget -- operations, maintenance, construction, historic preservation, Park Police -- comes in at $2.39 billion.
However, the omnibus bill provides only $25 million for the proposed Centennial Challenge initiative, through which private donations would be matched dollar-for-dollar by the federal government. Under President Bush's proposal, this challenge would have made $100 million available for the matching program.
Some notable aspects of the omnibus bill as it currently stands:
* No funding is provided for a study into removing the O'Shaughnessy Dam that flooded the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite National Park;
* The bill contains $71.5 million for the Historic Preservation Fund Program;
* The bill provides $221.9 million for construction;
* Federal land acquisition would be funded with $45 million. Twenty park units would benefit from this funding, including Acadia National Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, Cape Cod National Seashore, Flight 93 National Memorial, Gauley River National Recreation Area, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mesa Verde National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.
National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan said the budget would provide much good for the national park system.
"The operating increase will enable the National Park Service to fill some seasonal ranger positions and cover fixed costs, which had been straining park budgets; the funds provided to jump-start the National Park Centennial Challenge, a public-private matching grant program, will allow important prototype projects to get under way while Congress continues to work to pass pending Centennial Challenge legislation," said Mr. Kiernan.
“We understand that Congress and the administration wanted to do even more to help restore the national parks, but were precluded by the complicated and difficult budget climate," he added. "For this year’s effort to be meaningful over the long term, it will be critical that Congress and the administration build on it in next year’s budget, to continue the task of restoring the national parks for their centennial in 2016.”