tv House Natural Resources Subcommittee Hearing on National Park Service CSPAN April 6, 2019 1:05pm-2:08pm EDT
the creation of the oceanic and atmospheric administration. terms loses last names -- setting up airport security is after 9/11. he helped develop some of the nations important fire -- environmental regulations. next a hearing for president trump's national park service. administration calls for $2.7 billion, an estimated 15% .ecrease from the previous year national park service deputy director dan smith testifies before a house national resources subcommittee.
>> thank you all for being here. the spending priorities and mission of the national park service. since 2010, 5 million acres have been at to the national park system. in the same nine years, this system has seen that he 7 million additional visitors each year. despite these increases, the administration has proposed a score your 2020 budget with 3500
fewer full-time equivalent employees and has requested congress to slash funding to 2010 funding levels. proposed at the department of the interior is reckless and irresponsible. it shows a disregard for our countries historical scenic and environmental attributes. educational opportunities. it puts our resources at risk. natural and cultural resources funding. cleares that have made it , the predominant mandate is to conserve the scenery and the national and historic objects and wildlife within the park for future generations. yesterdayector smith appeared before the subcommittee to deliver the departments position on public when bills.
does notd the agency support pieces of legislation because your priorities are about focusing resources on reducing the national park billion. $11.9 proposal is not in line with euro agency priorities as it would significantly reduce funding for park maintenance and repair. it would reduce money available for construction. service.ere is a park not remain in an excusable backlog. -- outposal caps off successful programs. the historic preservation fund provides resources to partners including ncs.
colleges and universities protect and preserve insights. the departments proposal introduced items by nearly 70%. the budget also objectively reduced the national park service's protection of important resources for underrepresented communities. the proposed budget is not includes funny. or the american indian and native hawaiian art and culture grants. stated icretary vernor recognize climate is changing contributing but the department's budget does little to help our parks respond to the impacts of changing limits. something you have pushed to prioritize. needed. and the department to eliminate
the wind and -- land and water conservation fund, supported by the majority of americans which this congress just provided with permanent authorization. members on the subcommittee have a long list of concerns. ourdepartment of protecting park resources and i did not believe this budget alleviate any concerns. rather it raises further questions about this ,dministration's prioritization certain uses over the health of our public land. i look forward to having and carryingwered how the national park service is managing the lands. will have the reckitt -- recognize the ranking member -- member for his opening statement. the fy 2020o review
budget request of the national park service. , i hopector dan smith the chair is validating your parking. each year the president submits a budget request which functions like a statement of policies for the next fiscal year. the process provides that able insight into the priorities of the administration. it is congress's job to make spending decisions. one functioning job as the national resort -- resource committee. it is to review problem areas and make decisions. point -- part unit. rivers covering 84 million acres. parkresident, national
service and immediate needs of the national park system. a clear commitment to protect funding and grant programs. instead rightly focuses on ,mproving the national parks what the national park service already owns. i am supportive. the service should be focusing on ensuring a national parks are maintained and are welcoming in a safe place for the public. as my colleagues review this --ne prime example is the national park service faces a backlog of nearly $12 million. it is four times the size of the annual budget of the national park service.
the funding structure of the upional park service keeping with the liabilities on congress. this issue hits close to home. we have a $290 million backlog on our parks. -- backlog can in p are impaired visitor experiences. there are issues in the national park service but also a need for sustained funding stream. the situation will get worse the longer we ignore it. colleagues worked together and chairmanhop grijalva. -- and, no bill was signed into law. i hope the house democrats will make an effort to move the bipartisan issue boards. the administration and senate are willing partners and ready
for leadership. infrastructure, fun legislation in the budget fund a, congress must model as a whole. this includes adjusting recreation fees allocated and , increasing opportunities for private sector donations and partnerships and providing funding for this centennial challenge. republicans are ready to do our grow congress amending laws. i yield my time back. thank you -- >> thank you. oral statements are limited to five minutes but you may submit a longer statement if you choose. the lights in front of you will turn yellow when there is 1 -- one minute left and read when time has expired. i would like to thank -- for being here today and making the
time to come here to sit in front of our committee. smith,recognize mr. dan deputy director of the national park service. you have five minutes. curtis,ng member members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you on the spending priorities of the national park service. as reflected in the fiscal year 2020, budget request. submit my entire statement for the record. i am company -- accompanied by our controller for the national park service. the budget emphasizes 11.9 billion dollars in backlog. $796udget includes over million through repair and improvement, through the prioritization of projects,
health and safety and resource preservation. the budget also proposes a land infrastructure funds for the departments of interior and agriculture of which 70% would be repair and improvement. this investment will improve america's national parks. and please, the house has introduced the restore our public park and lands act. in 2018, the fourth consecutive , recreational visitation to america national parks exceeded 300 million. visitors play an important role in the economic status of communities. adding with a 300,000 jobs and over 5 billion dollars in economic output. and increase recreational
opportunities that are affordable and assessable. we requested level of $2.4 billion. the national park system has brought opportunity for hunters and hikers. the 2020 budget includes an initiative to support and enhance recreational opportunities that parks, including funds for new pushing programs and accessible hunting blinds and fishing peers to promote recreational access for all. it also includes funding to lesser-known park sites within the tourism industry and to build partnerships to market the recreation opportunities available at all national park unit. the 2018 fire season was the most significant in california history. suggestsbudget request 4 million for active management to reduce the wildfire risk in national park service and
increase safety for firefighters and the public. support for increased security at independence national historical part. the budget requests $5.7 million to suggest the reorganization of the department of the interior. $5 million to lever on the ships to donations to the national park foundation and $3.5 million in law enforcement and health safety increases. includes myis summary of the highlights of the budget that reflects the ministration priorities. thank you for your valuable testimony. the chair will recognize members for questions and under committee role 3-d each would
like to recognize for five minutes. >> thank you. we have the opportunity to focus on the administration budget proposal. i want to get started with a question about the historic preservation fund. this cuts funding by two thirds. mr. smith, the administration 56% would impact the fund ability to support offices and land for the preservation of historically and reason closing sites. congressman, the budget takes $35 million in that but -- fund. we view it as a placeholder to show we consider that a priority
on monday issues we deal with. i have concentrated on this budget first and foremost on the operation of the national park system. that is the $2.4 billion. we have looked for money for our infrastructure with repair for that. in the cap's that i have for the park service, it is still a priority but a lesser priority for our key is the and -- mission. it is a priority by cutting it too thirds. let me give you examples by how these cuts would impact arizona. historic on federal preservation funds because the state has failed to provide funding in years. without strong federal funding, responsible stewardship of laces -- places would be impossible. in phoenix, we are proud of historic neighborhoods and buildings. there are over 7000 historic homes in by -- my district
alone. events put on by district associations like punk rock are or than just -- they are the hearts of vibrant national communities. we need more resources, not less. we noted -- we need more people to be like, not less. this would be difficult to try, seven of whom operate their own offices in arizona. use their funds for the following. work with law enforcement to prosecute leaders which is important in indiana. operates museums. and cultural traditions, oral histories and native languages. this work would be under my proposed two thirds cuts to this
program. travel offices is not the most insulting thing. the showing our native americans this budget would eliminate funding. the native american act allows for sacred artifacts, including human remains. a huge step towards undoing horrific legacy of colonialism in trouble communities, these gramps -- grants would eliminate them. mr. smith, did your department consult with the tribes of the reduction of funds, or the elimination of the reparation grants? was 5.7ieve there million to start preservation officers. buto not have consultation
at least you admit it. you do not have any consultation with tribes on this budget. >> on that portion of the budget, no. congressman, this is a request with your interest in this issue. times of difficult priorities. i left a placeholder that said these issues are a priority. they may be more by priority. -- more of a priority. >> i have been in state government. budget is a reflection of values. i know what my values are and what i care about in terms of our we should see and put top concentrating on ever. it is disturbing when you are telling me that is the not -- that is not the same and at a
minimum consultation with our tribal communities should be a prerequisite when you're recreating this budget. i yield back my time. >> thank you. the chair recognizes mr. curtis for five minutes. you.ank , i told secretary zinke he about the moab a national park about the reservation system. i am pleased a year later at the national park says -- service has taken those concerns seriously. they are exploring different options. i would like to note i feel like this is the right way to handle a situation like this, listening to people on the ground whose lives are affected and want to kick gannon on the ground who does fantastic works.
opening remarks we have this $12 billion deferred maintenance in my district alone. we have $45 million, much more -- national park. in utah, deferred maintenance. i use this opportunity to say am a supporter of ranking .ishops resignation i do not know if you have comments. it is part of the president's budget we are supportive of that landmark piece of legislation because if it could be passed into law, we have been working with this congress to achieve that goal. our parks.re lugging i am curious to see if you can share any innovative methods the park service is using to make
parks more sustainable. how are we enhancing our visitor experience? the administration do that's not require congress to deal with this backwater? we are -- .> we are being loved to death transportation systems can alleviate that time in the summer. we can grasp the time of day we are overrun. .e come to solutions visited parks. i did not want to turn anyone away, trying to make other parks we are allple so moreg to make sure we make opportunity for recreational access that we have not had in the past that can also spread out that usage. it is an issue we deal with every day. thank you. while i was supportive of a
bunch of the administration request, me and colleagues were anypleased to see appropriations for the centennial challenge fund which helps us match government money with private donations since 2015 would have been able to dollars into $22 million, can you give insight into that decision? >> congressman, it is priorities. we anticipate from the senior past we will have 1.4 million dollars available which would be million with a 50-50 grant. there are tough decisions to be made in the budget process and that is one we did leave a placeholder at one point, $4 million which we had to reduce from the $20 million congress allowed last year. >> in 2016, congress passed the
president and the president enacted the centennial act with a new confessions authority. the regulations don't has not been issued for that authority. i can fully expect them to be issued. >> they will be issued within the next several months and we should have them. we have nine projects we're looking at by september. >> the chair recognizes mr. lone thal for five minutes. >> thank you chairwoman holland and thank you deputy smith for your testimony. deputy director, my questions pertain to the federal lands recreation enhancement act. the funding. this issue received a great deal of attention during the
shutdown when acting secretary bernhart directed the parks to use the ref news from entrance fees to perform day-to-day operations and keep the parks open to the public. flora to ss enacted enhance, not for trash removal and bathroom maintenance. use of funds contradicted the own internal policies and guidance on using fees to address deferred maintenance. so the first part of my question is did the improper use of funds during the shutdown divert funds from addressing the park service's almost $12 billion maintenance backlog? >> thank you for the question. i've been through six lapses in my government career.
actually, the authorization for the use of the money has five very specific categories that we can use it for that include maintenance and repair of our facilities, that include visitor enhancement and access. we followed through on those five policies and used them appropriately. i was directed by the acting secretary but i have to tell you that in carrying that out we did comport with the authority we have under that act to keep the parks open for visitation. and i would be glad to provide all kinds of detail on how those decisions were made. >> can you do you have a list of all the parks that used funds to remain open during the shutdown? > we do. >> how much money was spent in the site? >> we will have that with our financial system, we'll have that exact number very shortly. however, because of the
language in the continuing resolution, we actually did not use that money. it basically has been put back to where it would have been normally into the operations of the national park system. so technically we estimate that for those several weeks that we use this money was about $6 million per week. we'll get an exact number to the congress in a very short period of time. >> thank you. and the american -- let me change the topic. the american federation of government employees has recently reported that being a national park service law enforcement ranger ranks among the ten most dangerous jobs in the federal government. although i just read recent news articles that suggest that the national park service is considering lowering the standard of certification for officers accepting seasonal certifications rather than the current more rigorous federal law enforcement training center certification which to me would
put less qualified officers in the field, might endanger resources park visitors, federal employees, is the national park service considering accepting alternative training for permanent law enforcement park rangers? >> not exactly. it was considered as an option our situation is that we have about 200 law enforcement officers to go the federal law enforcement training center in georgia and we're back logged on that. we have what we have a type 2 commission where you haven't been through that final level of training and we put those people in the parks until they can get through. your statement is correct we have some of the highest trained people in the country in law enforcement and we work to make sure they are trained and capable of their job. >> you're saying they're going to continue to have that same training? >> we are not instituting what you're talking about. but we do have a dilemma of getting our people trained because of the lacklog at the federal law enforcement training center. >> what are you doing about it? >> we have people with type two
commissions and that's been a standard for many years. >> we have a report saying they're disproportionately white, they're not hispanic or african american. what is the department doing to ensure eek tabble access to our parks? >> we are very active especially to the youth of this country. we have many programs in our inner cities and also coordinated through ymca, through military installations, we are trying to reach the diverse and we also have programs to bring school children to our parks that normally have not had the chance to visit. >> i believe our time is up. i yield back. thank you. >> thank you. thank you for your questions. the chair now recognizes mr.
highs for five minutes. >> thank you for visiting our committee on back-to-back days. i know you've got an extremely busy schedule and the fact that you'd be here again means a great deal to us. we appreciate your time. before i get into some other concerns i do want to just reiterate again the importance to me and our state of the kettle creek battlefield and the importance of my proposed feasibility study for it to be included in the park system as a unit. i appreciate the brief conversation we had before this hearing got under way and appreciate your willingness to come visit the site and i look forward to joining you on that. i think it's extremely important that we arrange that. i just want to say publicly thank you for your willingness to do so. i think that speaks highly of
you and your commitment to it. but i do want to transfer to the maintenance backlog issue. i think we have a very serious problem here. obviously. you're aware of it as well. i am probably i think with most everyone here a -- i've supported our restore our parks and public lands act, very grateful for the chairman and ranking member for their bipartisan work in moving this forward. but i am concerned overall that the park service may be resting on its laurels and really depending on congress to take care of this problem on its own. i just want to make sure that is not the case. the president's budget is asking for $132 million basically to address the maintenance backlog. $134 million to forestall
growth in maintenance backlogs. but as i look at this, it seems to indicate to me that the backlog is actually increasing y roughly 2.5% every year or $227 million. s that ballpark correct? >> i don't know if the figures are correct but it is increasing. >> so i guess the point that i'm coming down with this is even if we get the funds that have been proposed, the backlog growth is still growing at a faster rate than the money that's being proposed to address the problem. i think while the restore our parks and public lands act is a fine plan, i fear that if the
park service does not implement its own plan to address these issues rather than rely upon these particular funds we're going to be right back here ten years from now and there will be another ask to reauthorize the restore our parks plan. that's the concern with me. i just want to know, what is under way? the american people need those energy revenues for other things not as a de facto piggy bank for the park service. so i guess really my question is what assurances can you put on the table here to let us know that that is not the case and that you all have a plan to implement? >> congressman, one thing in looking at these priorities, about half of our deferred maintenance is roads. if we did have the funding that
we're talking about from the restore our parks acted rather than doing segments to catch up you would be able to plan ahead knowing you had that funding stream to complete projects in a much more economiccal, much more satisfactory timeframe so there would be a gain in having that much money in the system to do our planning, design and planning for all of our projects and get a benefit on that. i'm not saying we would totally eliminate it but it would let us get on top of these issues. >> but it doesn't address the growing maintenance of every year. we're not catching up unless you have some sort of plan to catch up. >> it will allow us to catch up with things. our maintenance and repair and rehab maintenance. but to go to major projects out of our 76,000 buildings we're looking to demolish about 00 or more of those. so we are looking at ways to bring that down but it is a system a very accurate number
we have in deferred maintenance category. your concern is possibly correct but we would like five years to show you what we could do to resolve this deferred maintenance issue. >> thank you. >> the chair recognizes mr. case for five minutes. >> thank you very much. p and i would spli endorse the prior questions by other members having to do with deferred maintenance, certainly we're looking for a constructive solution with you to catch up on that maintenance and to restore our parks to what they should be. we welcome working with you on that. let me talk to you about a particular concern of mine that i believe is a national concern nd that is to our helicopters. in hawaii and i believe in other parts of the country, based on conversations with my colleagues, have become quite a scourge throughout many parts of our country, especially those with high scenic beauty qualities and tourism and
hawaii certainly fits that bill. and if you dig down underneath the tour helicopter situation you find there's virtually no regulation, no effective regulation as to altitude, time of operation, flight path over highly urbanized areas, noise, et cetera. so this is a big problem. but let me narrow it down to the national parks. the national parks are of course supposed to be where we go to enjoy, get back to nature and enjoy a pristine environment. i just find it fundamentally incompatible to be hiking out in the middle of hawaii's volcano national park and have 50 tour helicopters going over my head throughout the day and that is in fact what is happening right now. the latest stats that we know for an annualized basis show close to 16,500 overflights of hawaii volcano national park, a beautiful national park in hawaii.
the other national park is 5,000 overflights a year. now, that's no way to run a national park. passed a law in 2000, the national park air tour management act which was nps and to require the f.a.a. to set up specific air tour management plans for each of our national parks with over 50 overflights which is many of them to include the grand canyon national park. those overflights were supposed to get back to the purpose of creating a pristine environment, at least have people have some peace and quiet. yet none of them has ever been adopted. 18, 19 years later, and this has been a real problem for me and many others. reports are that the tour helicopter companies are now trying to weaken some of the regulations that are in effect for parks such as the grand canyon.
can you tell me whether the resources are being dedicated in any way shape or form at this point to implementing this 19-year-old law and if so kind of where do we go? >> congressman, thank you for your question. i'm aware of the issue. i was briefed on it just within the last couple of weeks. i'm aware of what happened in the grand canyon. i had some workings on that years ago. that one is in. it is coordination with f.a.a. which controls air space. there's now a lawsuit. i dare say that is what will force action here in the near future as we try to address this issue. it's a legitimate claim you bhake of that being an issue in these parks. there will be action i imagine taken in the next few years to address that. >> i certainly would love to work with you on that. we have a quiet skies caucus which focuses on these issues, so tell me if there's an actual congress talking about any particular subject you can imagine it's more a concern
than just one member. so many have that concern. switching gears to another treasure in hawaii the arizona memorial of course, memorializing the uss arizona sunk in 189 41 an iconic historic site the most visited site in all of hawaii. many, many people visit it including many of our military who look through it for a remembrance of their service and of those lost in that attack and throughout our history. the memorial has been closed for an indefinite period of time, and the problem is the dock at the uss arizona memorial itself. so you take a boat out you land on the dock, you get to visit the memorial and pay your respects. i just got an e-mail yesterday from a wife of a veteran looking for their 40th anniversary coming out to hawaii and visiting the arizona memorial where he served during his own service. this is a very meaningful visit
for many, many people. i would simply in the time remaining ask you to commit the national park service to accelerating that. i know you're trying, and as i understand it it's not a matter of funding but pushing through the actual repairs. so i would ask for your commitment to work with us to get that done. >> with my one second that's left, i hope you received that letter that i sent last friday the contract has been let $2.1 million, the timeline has it hopefully completed by september. we'll be informing the delegation monthly. >> thank you. the chair recognizes mr. huffman for five minutes. >> thank you madam chair and welcome mr. smith. i want to ask a few sques about the 35 day government shown. this administration made a rather unprecedented decision to keep parks open. my understanding is you put out a memo that outlined how that fs going to go forward.
do you think it was appropriate to leave these parks open during the shutdown given the xtent of damage that resulted? >> thank you for the question. the amount of damage in the parks most of it's been mitigated. we made a decision 300 parks made close the 100 are basically accessible urks you can't shut them. i believe it was the right decision and i can provide information on why i followed that direction and made that decision. >> i saw some of that damage in parks in and near my district. we certainly read about damage in places like joshua tree. i'm not sure i would agree with you that it was no big deal. i personally saw overflowing trash cans, vandalism, human waste was piled up in restrooms and other places in some of our parks to the point that some of
your personnel were thinking they may need to call has mat teams to clean them up when the government shutdown was finally ended. i don't know how some finally did get cleaned up but it was a public safety and health issue. of course we know about the destroyed resources in joshua tree. you really are telling us that that's no big deal? >> i'm telling you that i visited joshua tree after the shutdown. i talked to the superintendent this week and things are have been milt gated. of course initially all people saw about trash and bathrooms and human waste that was cleaned up of a day or two when we finally put our people back to work. you could have seen it on the mall here in tweash. >> i did. >> -- here in washington. >> i did. so you wouldn't do anything differently? what will be different and i hope we never have a government closure again. but if there is one, if there's a loss of appropriations and i
am still the acting director i will immediately use funds so that i have the maintenance staff to make sure we do not have those issues. it would be a limited number of parks but i would use the funds without any hesitation at all. >> what role did act the acting secretary play in the decision about parks remaining open? >> he discussed that and reviewed it with the solstors in the department. he called me in after his review he said we're going to use these funds. we knew we had about $250 million available and we started to make a plan to use those. >> so he did direct you to issue the memo? >> yes, he directed me but i was very glad to carry out the direction. during the shutdown secretary bernhart spoke numerous times about the dual mandate and mentioned the need to balance access and resource protection. but congress, the courts, even the internal memos report that
resource protection have to take primesy. so isn't it up to the service to determine that resource protection comes first rather than suggesting that there's some coequal balance? you're talking about suggesting that 35 days of access is of equal priority to the permanent protection of antickties like joshua tree national resources. >> it is a difficult dual mission. as i said to you these parks most of the 100 plus or minus stayed open are accessible anyway. they would have had people entering at some juncture. the use of funds would have us not have that be a problem. we always have the law enforcement staff there but we would have the additional staff to provide basic services in some of these parks. >> are you at all concerned that the park service potentially violated the organic act by putting park access over park conservation?
>> i personally am not. no. > the 35 days came at some cost. i've seen estimates that the park service lost $400,000 a day in entrance fees alone. we haven't even talked about quantifying the damage that we were discussing. how does the department of interior plan to replace all of this lost revenues? is there anything in the budget request that would make all this right? >> the laps came after this budget propostal has gone forward. yes certainly those parks we tried to keep open are usually fee-collecting farks so obviously there was a -- parks. so there was a loss of revenue. >> we fell further behind we sustained damage and there's nothing in the budget request to address any of that? >> i think i sort of understand your question. basically since we didn't use any of the deferred maintenance money because we did use
operational money the 252 million that was available will be used. 55% goes to deferred maintenance and that number has not changed. so i may be not quite answering your question. >> thank you. i will recognize myself now for five minutes. so just continuing on the line of questioning for mr. huffman, with respect to the daniel and other maintenance issues related to president trump's government shut down has the national park service developed a comprehensive report of the damages caused during the shutdown? >> we have not developed that yet. we've made a request for some information. i do not have that available yet. but we do know from contact with the parks we had many that made public notice, we have a lot of parks that corrected immediately in the last week of the laps and do not have any sustained damage at all. >> well, i would ask that when
a report is is produced, that the committee and the public i believe expect to see a copy of that report so if you can get that to us we would be very grateful. >> chairwoman, that will be made available. >> i am not sure if the question was asked in this way but what is tt estimated value of damage to national and cultural resources and park facilities with respect to the shutdown? >> i don't have an estimated dollar amount of that but the one that made the most attention was joshua tree and that consisted of 100 camp sites where people lit a fire. that's all been cleared up. about 27 miles aff off use use that was not authorized. 24 miles has now been mitigated. it required a slight waking out of an indent of a tire.
he says he has a growing problem of use there. i don't have a number but we have mitigated much of what happened. and what made most of the news trash and bathrooms that was cleared up within several days of when we did provide these basic services. >> thank you mr. smith. my next question, president trump has spoken frequently about his great love for the first amendment but it seems that this admiration does not extend to those exercising their first amendment rights near the white house and around our city of washington, d.c. yesterday, this committee received a letter from a broad coalition of stakeholders from the charles coke institute to the aclu condemning the administration's attempts to limit first amendment protest in d.c. they voiced concerns about the national park service's attempt to impose cost recovery fees on those exercising free speech and attempts to limit protest space in front of the white house.
it isn't often that we see such diverge nt groups but they were unanimous that the park service withdraw these proposed changes. for months this committee has attempted to get information on these same issues but the national park service has provided no updates since the close of the public comment period. what is the current status of these proposals and where do they stand in the development process? >> chairwoman, we are in a review phase of 180,000 comments received, 71 of them substantive, and those are under review. i have to tell you that the letter that you received from those groups, the proposed regulation does not propose that. it simply asked a question of what if that were to be considered and to get public comment on it. believe me we got public comment on it but it is not part of the proposed rule. it was a proposal to ask how people felt about trying to
recoup some type of money for the unbelievable cost for these demonstrations. the national mall with 7250 demonstration as year that are first amendment, 1500 otherwise, it's amazing what goes on at our national mall. we are not trying to do anything not to take away the first amendment right but look for ways to try to manage it. it was asking for comment. it was not part of the proposed rule. >> i understand. so the public comment period for the proposal has been closed since october so that's however many months. four or five months. can you give us a date when we could expect these proposed rules to be made public? >> i will provide that for the record. i think with the review that's now in the department with the comments all there and knowing what they are, i would assume within the next 60 days maybe 90 days but i will get that for the record. >> thank you so much. i appreciate that.
thank you. one last question with the few seconds i have. across the month of february this committee held hearings on climate change that touched every part of our jurisdiction. this committee heard from a leading scientists that climate change is impacting national park service sites at a disproportionate rate. yes or no is climate change a threat that your agency needs to take seriously? >> yes there are causes on our national parks and we're looking at ways to adapt to those changes. >> thank you very much. the chair now recognizes mr. horford for five minutes. >> thank you for giving us this opportunity to address the fiscal year 2020 spending priorities of the national park service. i am sure that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle can agree that the national park service plays an integral role in managing america's most prized public lands. the mission of the national
park service cannot be understated and i commend the national park service for all of its efforts to conserve and protect nevada's national parks and monuments. in my district, the people of nevada rely on the national park service to be the faithful stewards of the great basin national park, the death valley national park, the tulee springs national monument, the lake mead national recreation area and several national historic trails. nevada's parks, monuments, and historic trails provide unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities for the people of nevada and the visitors of our great state. in 2017 alone the national park service accommodated more than 7 million visits to nevada's parks, spurring more than 250 million of spending and supporting more than 3,000 jobs to our state. sadly, due to infrastructure backlogs, the american public, the rightful owners of our
public land, faces increasing difficulties and inconveniences visiting and enjoying our national parks and monuments. the state of nevada alone already faces more than $220 million of deferred maintenance backlogs and that number continues to grow. that is why it is essential that we provide the park service with the resources and funding it needs to properly manage our pristine landscapes. moreover, as members of the house natural resources committee it is most imperative that we oversee the spending priorities of the national park service and ensure federal dollars are spent to the best interests of the public and the environment. i would like to ask you director how do you justify a $480 million cut to the national park service when park roadways are plagued by pot holes, vandalism during the
government shutdown, untold damages on our park, visitation at our parks is at record high levels and the state of nevada alone has more than $220 million in deferred maintenance logs? back logs. >> congressman, the budget process begins at the department cleared through omb and comes here. i've named priorities that i do think provides for our 419 parks with operational maintenance. e provided 796 million towards deferred maintenance and basically we've maintained our 18,668 fte. ing at so we are aware of the question you have about our -- >> as a career park service employee do you believe this budget request lives up to the mission of the national park service? >> i believe that it helps me maintain the mission of the national park service in times of very strenuous visitation
limits and in a deferred maintenance backlog that is crippling us. >> between 2011 and 2018 park visitation increased by roughly 14% while staffing was reduced by roughly 14%. in nevada lake mead national recreational area has more than 7 million visits a year and yet in recent years the administration has continued to propose full-time employee staff reduction. can you explain why despite increases in park operations and visitation staffing levels have still been falling? and let me complete my last question before my time runs out. the national monument which i helped designate in the 113th congress has struggled to provide the necessary resources. the tuleie spring national monument five years later is still waiting on funding for the construction of a visitor's center to ensure park guests have the resources they need to get the most out of the new national park.
what is the budget for the visitor's center at tulee springs national monument and how can i get a guarantee that you are moving forward with the planning and development of ther center? >> i will have to provide that for the record. i am aware there is something in the budget that i do not have that handy. refresh me on the first part. fte is confusing to a lot of people. the park service for years has been moving toward more seasonal hires. we have high impact six months of the year.
we are moving toward more seasonal help that is a standard that has happened. >> thank you. thank you mr. smith for your valuable testimony and for all the members for your excellent questions. the members of the committee may have additional questions for will asksmith, and we you to respond to any of those in writing under committee role submitero, you must questions within three business days following this hearing and hearing record will be open for 10 days for the responses. if there is to for the business, without objection, the committee stands adjourned.
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ms. ward is interviewed by former new york observer editor in chief elizabeth spires. this is the other interesting dynamic. well that at some point become too much of an obstacle for him let them go?has to he goes back and forth on this and he was furious with them when they refused emails because afters what he went hillary clinton did. and the irony, it was president trump who called just pulled the trigger on his own. then he seems to forget about it. sunday onook tv c-span2. we taken out to federal