Omnibus spending bill would increase funding for national parks and wildfire suppression

The spending bill passed by the House and Senate on March 22, 2018 would increase funding the National Park Service needs to address its nearly $12 billion maintenance and repair backlog.

Under the proposal the Park Service would receive a 9 percent increase to its budget. The measure includes about $160 million to make repairs that would help growing numbers of visitors do everything from navigate challenging trails to have better access to restrooms. It could allow expensive transportation projects to begin soon.

The proposed funding contrasts sharply with the 8 percent cut proposed by the Trump administration, which provided $99 million for repairs.

In addition to more funding for the Park Service, the bill would provide new funding to the U.S. Forest Service and Interior Department to fight wildfires.

It would keep the nearly $1.4 billion the agencies use while allowing them to draw from billions of dollars in new disaster-relief funding when wildfires morph into monsters such as two fires last year outside San Francisco and Los Angeles. In past fire seasons, the Forest Service was forced to borrow money from programs meant to prevent fires, manage forests and improve recreation to pay for more firefighters and equipment as fires grew larger and more plentiful.

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