Congress wrapped up the 2014 session with two big Christmas tree bills with lots of presents for the National Heritage Areas (NHA). The first was the National Defense Authorization Act, which extended National Park funding for fifteen of the National Heritage Areas. The authorization for funding these NHAs had been set to expire in 2015. The areas are now reauthorized all the way to 2021. Then a couple days later along came the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for 2015, which increased funding for the program from the administration’s original 2015 request of $9.2 to $20.3 million dollars. This was done with the proviso that at least $300, 000 in base funding be made available to all NHAs with completed management plans. There was the additional directive that the agency not redistribute any of the funds of the “longstanding” NHAs. The legislation also restored the administrative funding for the National Park Service that was not included in the 2014 appropriations bill.
What a a great 30th Anniversary present for the NHAs and even though these were small additions to two big bills, people who care about parks and protected areas should pay close attention. What other park programs have such bi-partisan support? What other programs more than doubled their proposed line item? Food for thought…
Now for the rest of the News:
On the 12th day of December our Congress gave us all!
7 new national parks:
- Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, RI/MA
- Tule Springs National Monument, NV
- Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM
- WW I Memorial – the redesignation of Pershing Park DC
- Coltsville National Historical Park, CT
- Harriet Tubman National Historical Park , NY
- Manhattan Project National Historical Park, WA/NM/TN
8 new studies for potential units
8 boundary adjustments or increased protection
2 new memorials
2 new scenic rivers
14 studies for wild and scenic rivers
1 new commission for a museum of National Women’s History
15 Extended federal funding for 15 Heritage areas
1 Centennial Coin!