Issue Brief: National Park Service Centennial Act


ASLA supports the mission of the National Park Service (NPS) to preserve the natural and cultural resources of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of current and future generations.

Background & Analysis
In 2006, the U.S. Department of the Interior launched the National Park Centennial Initiative to prepare the NPS for its 100th anniversary in 2016. The Initiative also called for Congress to pass legislation to establish the Centennial Challenge Fund, a guaranteed federal fund to be matched with private contributions from the philanthropic sector. The dollar for dollar match will expand the NPS’s trajectory of leveraging philanthropic investments to protect park assets; preserve the historical story of America; maintain and enhance national park facilities and services; and offer a new level of excellence for visitors throughout the national park system.

As the centennial approached, Congress worked on legislation to ensure that our national parks were prepared for the next 100 years. The House Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Representative Rob Bishop (UT), and Ranking Member Raul Grijaliva (AZ) separately introduced H.R. 4680 and H.R. 3556, the National Park Service Centennial Act. Both bills established a Centennial Challenge Fund, which required a dollar for dollar federal to private match for signature projects to help prepare the national parks for the next century of public enjoyment.

On December 10, 2016, the Senate passed the House bill, H.R. 4680 by unanimous consent. ASLA, in conjunction with coalition partners such as the National Park Foundation, and the National Parks Conservation Association worked diligently with congressional champions on passage of this critical legislation. The bill established the NPS Centennial Challenge Fund, which provides funding and other critical resources to help protect and preserve our national parks into the future. The Fund resources can also be allocated to tackle the $12 billion maintenance backlog.

Since 2014, Congress has provided $25 million for the Centennial Challenge through annual appropriations, which successfully doubled those investments with private matches from foundations, universities, local governments, businesses, and other stakeholders. Throughout 2016, ASLA worked to highlight NPS’s achievements, the role of landscape architects in establishing and maintaining our national parks, and the need for increased support so that future generations may enjoy these national treasures.

Current Status

On March 28, 2017, Senators Mark Warner (VA) and Rob Portman (OH) introduced, S. 751, the National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017. The legislation aims to reduce the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog at the NPS by establishing a dedicated backlog fund, which will be housed at the Department of Treasury and will receive financing from mineral royalties not otherwise dedicated to other purposes. The backlog fund would also use resources to address high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the Park Service. Eighty percent of funds will be allocated to the repair and rehabilitation of non-transportation key assets, including historic structures, visitor facilities, water utility systems, disability access, health and safety, and recreation. Twenty percent of funds will be allocated to infrastructure priorities such as roads, bridges, and other transportation-related projects. Monies from the backlog fund will not be used for land acquisition or to supplant discretionary funding made available for recurring facility operations and maintenance needs for the Park Service.

Senators Mark Warner (VA) and Rob Portman (OH) and co-sponsors.

National Park Service Deferred Maintenance Backlog Reports
S. 751, the National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017
Press Release (Sens. Mark Warner and Rob Portman) on S. 751
National Parks Second Century Action Coalition Centennial Overview Factsheet
National Parks Second Century Action Coalition FY2017 NPS Funding Fact Sheet
H.R. 4680, the National Park Service Centennial Act (Chairman Bishop’s Bill)
H.R. 3556, the National Park Service Centennial Act (Ranking Member Grijalva’s Bill)
2016 Approved National Park Service Centennial Projects and Programs
Joint Economic Committee Democrats: Public Lands Spur Local Economies

ASLA Public Polices
National Parks
Public Lands
Preservation of Historic Sites, Districts, and Landscapes
Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs