Trump Reverses Course on NPS Shutdown Funding (2/11/2019)

Story by Woodall's Campground Management

Lawmakers and conservationists are dealing with whiplash after a stunning decision by the Donald J. Trump administration in mid February to reverse course and retroactively use congressionally appropriated funds for maintenance costs incurred during the government shutdown, according to The Hill. 

Experts and politicians say they have grave concerns and even more questions about the new decision. The shift overwrites the controversial decision made in early January for the National Park Service (NPS) to pull from park entrance fee revenue to cover shutdown costs.

Lawmakers told The Hill they plan to investigate both the original decision and its reversal.

“It's amazing, we squandered assets through the shutdown for nothing; said Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources committee, which oversees the Interior Department. “This is a very bad precedent to give an administration such latitude that they are able to use predesignated funds and set them somewhere else without a challenge, so we intend to challenge that.”

NPS deputy director Dan Smith announced last week that the NPS would no longer have to use the revenue obtained through park visitor entrance fees to pay for the maintenance and ranger oversight needed during the past government shutdown.

“We have confirmed with the [White House] Office of Management and Budget that the NPS can move obligations made during the appropriations lapse from the [Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act] fee account and apply those obligations to the National Park Service annual operating account," Smith said in an internal memo.

“In short, Congress has enabled us to fully restore the FLREA account to pre-lapse levels.”

The announcement rolled back an earlier decision in January from Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that parks would zero-out, if necessary, the entrance fee or FLREA funds in order to keep parks clean and maintained during the on-going government shutdown.

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