National Park Investments in 2023 Will Improve Access and Facilities Across the Country

In 2023, the National Park Service (NPS) is making significant advancements to increase recreational opportunities, improve visitor facilities, ensure critical moments in our shared history are honored and preserved, and provide economic benefits for people and communities throughout the country. 

“NPS staff, supporters and partners are excited about the work taking place, under the leadership of the Department of the Interior, to provide the American people with extraordinary experiences in their national parks and to support programs that provide close to home preservation, conservation and recreational opportunities,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams. “Increased funding from sources including the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Great American Outdoors Act are enabling us to make tremendous progress on large-scale projects to upgrade infrastructure, increase green energy, address climate change, restore ecosystems, add recreational options, and preserve treasured landscapes.” 

In 2023, the NPS will continue to connect people to the variety of natural, cultural, and recreational resources available in national parks and through NPS programs. We look forward to the progress afforded by these upcoming opportunities.  

The NPS will use funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) and Department of Transportation grant opportunities, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to invest in the future of parks.  

GAOA will provide funds for: 

  • $1.33 billion for high priority deferred maintenance and repair projects, including rehabilitation of bathhouses at Hot Springs National Park, utility systems at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, water and wastewater systems at Everglades National Park, perimeter fences in Hawai’i parks, a sewer system in Gateway National Recreation Area and 10 miles of the parkway in Colonial National Historical Park.
  • $336 million for State Conservation Grants, including $200 million for formula grants and $125 million for competitive Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership grants. Of significance, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2023 allows funding for states to staff positions to manage the grant programs and raise awareness of the technical and financial assistance they provide.
  • $105.8 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s Land Acquisition program, including at Haleakala National Park, Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Cumberland Island National Seashore and Saguaro National Park. These land acquisitions will provide for continuous visitor use and resource protection in these areas that are currently privately held but within defined park boundaries.  

Through funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, the NPS will invest dollars and resources to prevent catastrophic impacts from extreme fire behavior fueled by climate change. This includes work to reduce emerging threats to sequoia groves to ensure the long-term viability of the ancient trees and protect them from future losses. Between 2020 and 2021, 13% to 19% of the world’s population of large giant sequoias were killed by three large wildfires.

Additionally, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 funded major construction projects including:  

  • At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, rehabilitation of the Laurel Falls Trail.
  • At Mount Rushmore National Monument, rehabilitation, and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.
  • At the National Mall and Memorial Parks, repairs to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to prevent water loss. 

In 2023, the NPS will begin or continue work on projects with investments from the IRA: 

  • Leverage the NPS partnership with the congressionally created Presidio Trust to address $200 million of the maintenance backlog that is not otherwise eligible for deferred maintenance funding under the Great American Outdoors Act. 
  • Initiate conservation, resilience and habitat and ecosystem restoration projects to protect park lands and resources.
  • NPS will begin to hire new employees using $500 million in funding from the IRA to support parks across the country.

The NPS will continue to confront the climate crisis by investing in infrastructure that bolsters climate resilience and by repairing recent damage from severe weather events:  

  • $1.5 billion to support continuing recovery efforts at parks impacted by natural disasters, including protecting Giant Sequoias from wildfire in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, flooding in Yellowstone National Park, a rockslide impacting the main road in Denali National Park and Preserve, and Hurricane Ian effects across Florida’s national parks.

NPS is pursuing a match from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding, to make investments that support the Grand Canyon National Park Shuttle Bus Maintenance Facility, Bus Fleet Replacement and Charging Infrastructure project. The project aligns with the sustainability and climate change goals of converting the federal fleet to zero emission vehicles. It consists of acquiring 10 new battery electric buses (BEB) and 20 new near-zero emission compressed natural gas buses (CNG) to replace the aging fleet; installing charging infrastructure to support the electric buses, including a solar parking canopy; and replacing an obsolete and undersized vehicle maintenance facility. 

The NPS will work to build sustainability into the agency by creating a diverse and inclusive workforce:  

  • Funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 will provide improvements to employee housing, which will help attract and retain quality staff through $6.9 million to lease, construct and rehabilitate park housing in locations where housing is either unaffordable or unavailable in the local community.
  • BIL funding will introduce a firefighter pay table, provide for better recruitment and retention for wildland firefighters and incorporate opportunities for youth, women and veterans-based fire crews. 

Additional 2023 investments for the following programs will strengthen coordination with Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Alaska Native communities. 

  • Increase of $1.25 million for Native American Graves Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) grants
  • Increase of $7.0 million for grants to Tribal Historic Preservation Offices
  • Increase of $1.4 million for the Office of Native American Affairs
  • Increase of $4.3 million to build capacity, strengthen partnerships and improve coordination with Tribal nations by supporting additional Tribal liaisons across the country, as well as NAGPRA specialists, archeologists specializing in Tribal artifacts, and Tribal compliance and coordination specialists. 

The NPS will work to build access to parks, create opportunities to tell new stories and provide experiences that help tell a history more representative of all Americans. Investment in 2023 will support various programs to help NPS parks and programs tell previously untold stories. More specifically, funds will support the Heritage Partnerships Program and the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, as well as grant programs including: 

  • State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices
  • African American Civil Rights
  • History of Equal Rights
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization
  • Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation
  • Japanese American Confinement Sites
  • American Indian & Native Hawaiian Art & Culture 

As the new year begins, the NPS will build off the great work of staff, partners and supporters from the past year. Increased funding will allow NPS staff and partners to tell new stories, bolster climate resilience, support and grow a thriving workforce, invest in the future of parks, and continue to preserve and share the nation's most important places and stories for generations to come.

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