Details Emerging about the Execution of the Great American Outdoors Act

The National Park Service recently published an article that contains more details about how The Great American Outdoors Act will be funded, both the source of funding and a timeline for the release of funds.

According to NPS, the bill signed by President Trump on August 4th enables the use of revenues from energy development to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years to provide needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian schools. It will also use royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country. Assuming the programs are fully funded, the new funding amounts to $2.8 billion a year.

It’s a Start

As we have written previously, the total deficit in funding of projects to maintain national parks, national monuments and other endangered lands under supervision by the federal government amounts to approximately $13 billion.

In a strange kind of way this may be better than fully funding the entire shortfall sooner. I have written in recent posts about my concern, as a career program and project manager, that attempting to execute such an immense scope of work across an immense landscape would certainly be hard to manage at best, and prone to waste and inefficiency at worst.

It is with a spoonful of optimism that I look forward to getting my eyes on the list of actual projects undertaken in 2021 and beyond. Let’s all get behind this plan, because after all, it is the plan we have. Recall that we have had no plan at all to catch up with the backlog of maintenance for the past twenty years or longer.

Link to the NPS article referenced above is here.

Get Involved

Please let me know if you are interested in helping us support this work, by clicking CONTACT US and entering the word ‘COUNT ME IN’ in the box labeled ‘Your interest…’. Your contact information is kept confidential and never sold or shared. I will personally respond to you within five days, and I don’t use autoresponders or mail bots.

Thank you for your interest in saving our wild lands and the animals that call these places home. Stay safe, my friends.

p.s. Take only pictures and leave only footprints!

President Trump Signs Great American Outdoors Act

On August 4, 2020, President Donald J Trump signed into law The Great American Outdoors Act (Public Law 116-152). This who have been following this site will remember that National Parks maintenance has been deferred for a number of years. At last tally, deferred maintenance projects were estimated to be in the range of $13 Billion.

The Pew Charitable Trusts reported (on August 4):

“A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives worked across the aisle to craft the Great American Outdoors Act, which recently passed both bodies with overwhelming support. With President Trump’s signature on August 4, this groundbreaking act is now law and will provide an investment of up to $6.65 billion in nontaxpayer funds over five years for priority park repairs and nearly $3 billion for our U.S. forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, fish and wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Education schools. The act also permanently and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an important tool to protect access to public lands and that provides communities with resources to build local parks, trails, and soccer fields.   

This law is a long-overdue investment in the maintenance of our parks and public lands, and it will also create jobs. The act will help sustain the 5.2 million American jobs the recreation industry supports each year—spending from park visitors alone supports over 340,000 jobs annually—and a recent National Park Service (NPS) analysis projects that it will generate an additional 100,000 park-related jobs.”

What will Secretary Zinke’s Resignation Mean to National Parks Restoration Projects?

Just crossing the wires this morning is a report on Bloomberg News that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be stepping down at the end of December. As most of my readers know, his term in the Interior Department has been controversial. He was instrumental in the early retirement of Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk earlier this Fall, as well as the downsizing of several key protected lands from National Monument status and threats to further reduce endangered lands from federal protection.

The former Navy Seal and Congressman from Montana was a proponent of making the US “the strongest energy superpower” in the world, winning him support from oil, gas and mining advocates.

According to the Bloomberg report, the President has said that he plans to name a new secretary next week. Candidates mentioned in the report include David Bernhardt, the agency’s number two official, Cynthia Lummis, former congresswoman from Wyoming, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, among others.

The announcement of Zinke’s impending departure from Interior is something we will watch very closely, especially at a time when Congress is considering a funding bill to begin work on the more than $11 Billion backlog of repairs needed to maintain our national parks and other federally protected lands and waterways.

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See us Present at the 14th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Tracking the Human Footprint

We are excited to announce that we will be speaking at the upcoming (September 11-14, 2018) 14th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, to be held in Big Sky, Montana. This year’s conference is sponsored by Yellowstone Forever, with the theme Tracking the Human Footprint. For more information, and registration instructions, click here.

Scientific & Technical Volunteerism

Our theme at this year’s conference will be Scientific and Technical Volunteerism as a potential accelerator for projects, studies and other work at our National Parks, especially our first National Park, Yellowstone.

Our speakers will be:

  • Larry Rogers, founder of The Conservancy Project study group
  • Eric Curby, retired Capital Management SAP Applications global process owner, The Procter & Gamble Company
  • JD Davis, Senior Director, Campaign/Special Projects, Yellowstone Forever

Extended Abstract of our Presentation

“Accelerating Infrastructure and Conservation Work in Yellowstone National Park and other Public Lands – A New Approach”

The problem

“I contribute to my favorite national park non-profit to the best of my financial ability. Unfortunately, that means I will not have the impact I want to have.”

Does that sound familiar?

Continue reading “See us Present at the 14th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem”

Pew Charitable Trusts Releases Data Visualization on $11B National Parks Maintenance Backlog

$11B: A Big Number made more Understandable

In its latest release, the Pew Charitable Trusts Restore America’s Parks initiative has helped to clarify the huge backlog in maintenance work at our National Parks by sharing charts and graphics showing how that large number is broken down into categories of work.

But, fair warning! You may find a surprise or two in the newly detailed list of project categories (at least, I did). For example, who knew that the National Park Service has responsibility for maintaining missile silos? Seriously, missile silos? Pew’s research adds definitions to each category, and yes, my eyes went straight to the definition for missile silos. “Missile Silos are defined as raised or underground structures that are used to store or fire missiles…,” the research tell us.  I’m still confused about that one.

I wish someone would let us know if any of this backlog has been included in the current budget, next year’s proposed budget, or simply getting kicked down the road for future generations.

How the work breaks down

Categories listed by Pew include in yesterday’s news release include: Continue reading “Pew Charitable Trusts Releases Data Visualization on $11B National Parks Maintenance Backlog”

Call for Talent: National Parks Project Backlog Exploding

Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park (Photo: Larry Rogers)

Let’s face it, our National Parks, wild lands and wildlife are in danger

You can read articles on this site about the $11.6 Bn backlog in funding of maintenance projects at our National Parks. We don’t know how bad it is for other protected lands and wildlife. The good news is, we believe there will be progress in Congress and the states to start clearing this backlog soon, possibly as soon as this year.

“Organizations charged with executing the backlog of project work could be overwhelmed”

Continue reading “Call for Talent: National Parks Project Backlog Exploding”

My Story: Why I Shuttered my Business to Become an Activist for Conservation

My story is no different than most personal accounts of people who were born in the 1950s and lived through the sock-hop rock-n-roll Sixties, the tie-dyed Seventies, the Cold War Eighties, the internet-connected Nineties, the Great Recession of the 2000s, and now the Age of Enlightenment 2010s. I have sleep-walked through several of those decades, experienced the highs and lows of social interaction, found a successful trade that I could turn into a career, and then, finally, “Thank God!” I found something that I really enjoy doing. For me, it was photography, and specifically, digital photography that unleashed my creative desires, awakened me at night with new ideas, and yes, photography gave me a reason to experience the most wonderful places on planet Earth. Oh, just one more thing…I found love, too, but that’s a story for another day.

Larry Rogers, set up for a moose in Grand Teton NP (Photo: Gregory Stamp)



“Thank God! I found something that I really enjoy doing!”

Continue reading “My Story: Why I Shuttered my Business to Become an Activist for Conservation”

Pew Trusts: Infrastructure Groups Building the Case to Fix National Parks

National Parks Maintenance Funding Could Provide Needed Jobs

In a March 19, 2018 post, The Pew Charitable Trusts released results from a Pew-commissioned analysis that found that fully funding the backlog of maintenance projects at US national parks could provide as many as 110,000 new jobs.

A restroom at Yosemite National Park in California was closed because needed repairs hadn’t been made.
Photo: The Pew Charitable Trusts

In the post, Pew says “More than 180 groups representing engineers, architects, planners, and trade and professional associations are asking lawmakers to provide the funding the National Park Service needs to address $11.6 billion in overdue repairs.”

This new data completely validates our value proposition, namely, that The Conservancy Project’s business model which proposes to leverage the education and experience of hundreds of Americans who are ready and willing to volunteer a few hours each month, or more, will accelerate work to reduce the backlog of national parks project work. Continue reading “Pew Trusts: Infrastructure Groups Building the Case to Fix National Parks”

A Great Example of Conservation that Works!

Introducing The Western Rivers Conservancy

In my previous post, I mentioned that I have a wonderful relationship with a non-profit organization that supports Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone Forever.  I have learned pretty much my entire body of conservation knowledge from that organization, through personal contacts in the organization and through connections on LinkedIn. Relationships such as this are a great way to get started in conservation.

It was during a conversation with one of my YF connections that I first learned about The Western Rivers Conservancy.  Here is a wonderful example of thinking outside the box (just as we are) to have a significant impact on the conservation of endangered lands.  In a nutshell, the mission of WRC includes the purchase of endangered lands for set-aside. One example near and dear to my heart is their purchase of mineral rights in a former mining area very close to the park boundary at Yellowstone.  A review of their website will lead the reader into more details on the projects they currently have under way, and past accomplishments. Continue reading “A Great Example of Conservation that Works!”

National Park Projects in Trouble

Pew Trusts Research Suggests $11.6 Billion Backlog in National Parks Maintenance Project Work

As an admirer and very frequent user of our national parks, I had a hunch that something was wrong when I visited my favorite park last fall. Visiting Yellowstone in the months of September and October has worked well for me for decades, as a way to gain almost unlimited access to not only the backcountry but also the main attractions with minimal traffic and inconvenience. However, when I visited last September 18th, I was nearly horrified at the lack of access due to over-use. This started me thinking.

I have been a supporter of a great non-profit organization that works as the official partner of the National Park Service for Yellowstone, known as Yellowstone Forever. I have made a few connections at YF over the years, through which I have gained some insights into challenges being faced by the park. A visit to their website is a great read, especially their Current Projects page. My connection to YF has led me to The Pew Charitable Trusts, and to their initiative called Restore America’s Parks. Continue reading “National Park Projects in Trouble”