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Bill to Create Centennial Challenge Introduced to Senate


    With little fanfare, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, at the request of the president, introduced legislation the other week that, if enacted, would launch the National Park Centennial Initiative.
    Now, Senator Bingaman has not jumped on the bandwagon of this initiative, as he believes there currently are too many unknowns attached to it. And he made that clear when he introduced the legislation.
    "While I commend the administration for this effort to secure increased funding for our national parks, I still need to better understand many of the specifics of the proposal, and until then, am reserving judgment on it," he told his colleagues.
    Among the senator's concerns:
    1. Whether this initiative will actually generate new money for the park system, "or whether increases in funding from the initiative will simply be offset by funding reductions in other areas."
    2. "Whether the philanthropic goals proposed by this legislation are realistic, given the historic levels of private contributions for national parks."
    3. "We need to learn more about the type of projects and programs that would be funded under the initiative."
    4. "Finally, any legislative initiative that proposes $1 billion in new direct spending without an offset will certainly be carefully reviewed."

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