Park Service Ensures High Quality Visitor Experience
National Park Service Director Fran P. Mainella told House lawmakers that the Park Service budget has “more funds per employee, per acre and per visitor than at any time in its history.”
Mainella testified before the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee regarding budget issues. During her testimony she touted the Service’s recent accomplishments as illustrative of the successes that can be achieved when prioritizing resources.
“Our job is to manage the funds that the President has proposed and Congress has provided, to ensure that parks are open, resources are protected, and outstanding visitor services are provided. We will do that job,” Mainella said.
“Creating a positive visitor experience is core to our mission at the National Park Service and we have succeeded,” she said, noting that NPS has attained a 96% satisfaction rating by park visitors.
Mainella touted recent successes at NPS, including: a new management reform process to provide a better asset inventory and condition information to perform park improvements; a 63 percent increase in annual spending for the NPS program that preserves natural resources within parks; enhanced law enforcement; personnel increases; and a 60 percent increase since fiscal year 2000 in funds spent on deferred maintenance including funding more than 1,300 repair and rehabilitation projects.
“We have conducted thousands of facility and infrastructure improvements have resulted in better trails, accessible campgrounds, rehabilitated visitor centers and better road conditions,” Mainella told the lawmakers.
Mainella also addressed concerns expressed by some of the members of the Committee in a letter to her earlier in the week. Mainella said NPS was taking action to:
- Suspend foreign travel, with very limited exceptions, subject to approval from her and the Office of the Secretary. She added that NPS had already reduced international travel by 50% and domestic travel by 14%.
- Review partnership construction projects.
- Provide new direction to the field to ensure that the proper oversight and that NPS policies and requirements are followed.
“Managers must make decisions on how best to deploy their resources while protecting the mission of the Park Service and providing outstanding visitor services,” she said. “Even with record funding, challenges always remain…We are meeting those challenges.”