National Park Service Centennial to Include Youth Outreach, Backlog Reduction

The White House used the FY2016 budget request to outline plans to keep parks relevant to an increasingly urban and diverse nation and to invite all Americans to help support their parks. The requests include $20 million annually to transport over a million urban youth to national parks and public lands, with dedicated youth coordinators to welcome them and their families, and a significant increase in the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge program, which leverages federal spending at least 1:1 with contributions and partner funding and helps reduce the large NPS deferred-maintenance backlog.

A goal of the National Park Service’s Centennial in 2016 is to keep parks relevant to an increasingly urban and diverse nation. According to the American Recreation Coalition, “Every Kid in a Park will strive to ensure that every 4th grader in the nation has a meaningful experience in a park or other public lands setting beginning in the fall of 2015.” Federal and state park and recreation agencies will host the visits, designed to be both fun and educational.

The recreation community has also expressed great concern over a backlog in deferred maintenance of NPS visitor infrastructure now estimated to total nearly $12 billion. The President’s proposal outlines a strategy to end the non-transportation component of that backlog within 10 years, partly through increased appropriations and partly by inviting support from individuals, organizations and corporations.

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