After an all-night voting session, Congress closed the Centennial year with a significant investment in the future of our National Parks. The last-minute passage of the National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680) last weekend will have long term benefits for Voyageurs National Park, Voyageurs National Park Association, and parks and their partners across the country. And, it boasts significant bipartisan support.
The NPS Centennial Act will help address some of the $12 billion backlog in needed repairs to park infrastructure; expand the Centennial Challenge Fund, a public-private funding partnership; establish and seed a national parks endowment; and provide additional opportunities for youth and volunteers.
The expansion and continuation of the Centennial Challenge Fund builds on the proven success of leveraging private dollars with federal funds for projects and programs throughout the National Park System. In the past two years, Congress invested $25 million in the program, while partners raised over $45 million in matching funds. Locally, Centennial Challenge funds matched by Voyageurs National Park Association and other funding sources helped to rehab Voyageurs National Park's Cruiser Lake Trail and launch a wetland restoration project. VNPA looks forward to this continued opportunity to leverage future funds to engage youth, offer learning and recreation opportunities, and protect and restore historic sites.