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IB10093 - National Park Management and Recreation (pdf)

19-Jun-2002; Carol Hardy Vincent and David Whiteman; 19 p.

Update: In his FY2003 budget, the President restated his commitment to eliminating NPS€s multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog by FY2006, and requested a total of $663 million for FY2003 for all regular and deferred construction and facilities maintenance. The Administration also proposed making the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program permanent, and on June 19, 2002, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on bills to provide permanent authority. The settlement of a suit over a rule regulating the use of personal watercraft (PWC) prohibits PWCs from areas where they are now allowed unless the NPS takes certain actions. The June 2001 settlement of a suit over a rule banning snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the Rockefeller Parkway required NPS to reexamine the ban. A draft supplemental environmental impact statement released in February 2002 reviews four options without designating a preferred alternative. S. 498, which would amend the National Trails System Act by adding €National Discovery Trails€ as a new category of long distance trails, and by designating €the American Discovery Trail€ the first coast-to-coast trail, passed the Senate on August 3, 2001. On May 16, 2002, a House subcommittee held hearings on a companion bill, H.R. 36.

Abstract: The 107th Congress is considering legislation on and conducting oversight of issues related to lands managed for recreation, especially National Park Service (NPS) lands. The Administration also is focusing on park and recreation issues through budgetary, regulatory, and other actions. Several key issues are covered in this report. Maintenance Backlog. One issue for Congress is determining the appropriate funding level to maintain park units, and whether to appropriate new funds or use funds from existing programs for park maintenance. To address the NPS€s multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog, President Bush requested $4.9 billion from a combination of sources over 5 years. The NPS also is undertaking efforts to define, quantify, and eliminate its backlogged maintenance. Congress included money for some maintenance backlog needs of the NPS in the FY2002 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-63). Motorized Recreation. Motorized recreation, notably the use of personal watercraft (PWC) and snowmobiles in NPS units and commercial air tours over them, has fueled debate over the balance between recreation on, and protection of, park lands. Recent controversies have focused on regulatory actions that restrict use of these vehicles. For instance, in 2000, the NPS prohibited PWCs in 66 NPS areas and is reevaluating such use in another 21 areas. Clinton Administration actions to enforce regulations limiting snowmobile use in most national parks have been controversial. In particular, the June 29, 2001, settlement of a lawsuit by the current Administration to overturn a ban on snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway requires NPS to take certain actions to decide whether to keep or modify the ban. Grand Canyon National Park is at the center of a conflict over whether to limit air tours over national parks. Lawsuits over regulations that restrict air traffic in that Park have not been resolved. Bills have been introduced to encourage safe, responsible use of PWCs; to ban snowmobile use, or to overturn the ban, in most national parks; and to govern air tours at Grand Canyon and other parks. Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. The €Fee Demo€ Program was created to allow the NPS and other land management agencies to test the feasability of self-financing through new fees. The Bush Administration proposed extending and amending the program. P.L. 107-63 contains provisions to extend the program for 2 years, gives agencies discretion to establish any number of fee projects, and make other changes. Other measures are under consideration, including one to establish a permanent fee program. The National Trails System. While designation of trails is often popular, issues remain regarding funding, expansion, and quality of trails. Congress is considering legislation to amend the National Trails System Act to include a new category of trails; to provide authority to acquire land for certain trails, but only from willing sellers; and to study certain routes, as well as authorize other studies, for possible additions to the System. As part of President Bush€s National Parks Legacy Project, park trails would be increased, and under the President€s Conservation Partners Initiative, teams of concerned citizens and NPS staff will restore and preserve parklands, including trails.  [read report]

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