Bill Aims To Address Critical Needs Of National Parks
Posted on April 21, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In honor of Earth Day on Friday, April 22, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John McCain (R-AZ), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) today introduced the National Park Centennial Act of 2005, which aims to address critical maintenance and operating needs of national parks by 2016 – the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The legislation provides new funding for the National Park System by giving taxpayers the opportunity to mark a box on their tax returns each year that would send a contribution to a National Park Centennial Fund. Today, taxpayers can contribute $3 to presidential elections. “I grew up and live on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and firmly believe there is nothing more central to the American character than the great American Outdoors,” said Alexander during a news conference on Capitol Hill. "This legislation will give millions of Americans an opportunity to contribute to the preservation of our national parks and plan ahead so future generations can have places to enjoy our outdoors. Congressman John Duncan has put a lot of hard work into this issue for many years. I look forward to working with him and our colleagues to pass this legislation.” The National Park Centennial Act: Creates a National Park Centennial Fund, which would be funded by the American public through a check-off box on federal tax returns. The fund would expire after 2016. Directs 60 percent of the Centennial Fund toward eliminating the non-road backlog in the national parks; Directs 40 percent of the Centennial Fund to the Natural and Cultural Resource Challenges to assist in combating invasive species, conducting research, completing environmental restoration projects, and preserving historic buildings, archaeological sites and collections. The funds made available by the Centennial Act are intended to supplement, not detract from, annual appropriations from Congress for the National Park Service. According to an April 2005 poll conducted by Zogby International on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association, 61 percent of likely voters expressed the likelihood to donate to the national parks if given the option to do so on their federal tax returns. Based on the number of tax returns filed in 2002, survey results indicate that as much as $650 million could be realized annually with the addition of a check-off box benefiting the parks on federal tax returns. In March, the companion bill H.R. 1124 was introduced in the House by a bi-partisan group of congressional representatives including Reps. John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Bill Jenkins (R-TN), Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Harold Ford (D-TN).