April 29, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As peak season approaches for National Park visitations, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, today pressed Tommy Beaudreau, nominee to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, for his commitment to implementing the Great American Outdoor Act, the bipartisan legislation co-led by Senator King, and enacted into law last year. The exchange between Senator King and Mr. Beaudreau occurred during a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and also covered Beaudreau’s commitment to work with the Biden Administration to fill the position of the Director of the National Park Service (NPS); there has not been a Senate-confirmed Director of the NPS since 2017.
SENATOR KING: “I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that this summer is going to be the biggest summer ever for the National Parks – and we better be ready. As you and I have discussed, in our meeting prior to this hearing, we really need to talk about the National Parks in terms of the pressure on them – and that brings me to the Great American Outdoors Act. The implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act, which involves both the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Restore Our Parks Act – maintenance in the parks – is critically important. Here in Congress, we can provide the vision, but your agency has to provide the implementation. Is this going to be a priority for you when you go into office? And, will you commit now to being clear and transparent with this Committee in terms of the steps taken by the administration to implement the Great American Outdoors Act?”
BEAUDREAU: “Yes, thank you for that. As I said in my opening statement, I am profoundly appreciative of the work of this Committee and Congress to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, and to bring much needed resources into the park service and our public lands. We talked for many years about the maintenance backlog and infrastructure crisis facing the National Parks, and to have Congress step up in such a significant way to address that problem is really amazing. I know everyone has frustrations about getting stuff done – but Congress really got some important work done, and yes, I look forward to working with the Interior Department and this committee on making sure that we bring maximum value out of each one of those dollars.”
Senator King also emphasized the importance of having “strong and consistent” leadership at the NPS, and sought Mr. Beaudreau’s commitment to working with the Interior Department and the Biden Administration to fill the vacancy of the NPS Director.
SENATOR KING: “The National Parks Service has been leaderless for 4-5 years – what kind of priority do you place upon helping the President and Secretary [of Interior] to find a director of the National Park Service and be sure that we have consistent and strong leadership in charge of that critically important part of our federal responsibility?
BEAUDREAU: “Thank you, Senator. I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. The National Park Service is essential to connecting the American people with our shared natural resources, and encouraging our next generation of Americans to be involved in conservation. In order to carry those values forward, I agree with you. I think it’s extremely important that the National Park Service has a director.”
A member of the Energy and Natural Resources and Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Senator King is among the Senate’s loudest voices advocating for public lands and encouraging outdoor recreation. He was recently awarded the inaugural National Park Foundation (NPF) “Hero” Award. Senator King helped lead the passage the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) into law; the legislation includes the Restore Our Parks Act – a bill led by Senator King – and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Permanent Funding Act. The historic legislative package continues Senator King’s career-long focus on conservation efforts, dating back to his work prior to running for elected office through his years as Governor and his service in the Senate.