Majority of Congress Agrees that National Parks are a Priority

National Parks Action Fund Holds Members of Congress Accountable on Parks Record

CONTACT: Angela Gonzales, Press Secretary

WASHINGTON – According to the National Parks Action Fund’s 2019-2020 Congressional Scorecard issued today, the majority of the 116th Congress made national park protection and funding a priority, passing two of the biggest conservation bills in the last 50 years — the John Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act and the Great American Outdoors Act – further showing that parks are not a partisan issue, but an American one.

For too long, our national parks and public lands have been underfunded, understaffed and undervalued. But the National Parks Action Fund (Action Fund) has helped turn the tide, holding members of Congress accountable for their national parks record. Since the Action Fund launched its first Congressional Scorecard in 2016, bringing to light the clear partisan divide in the 114th Congress, lawmakers have increasingly voted in support of America’s favorite places.

“Members of congress have long touted their love of our national parks, yet their records haven’t always matched their rhetoric,” said Theresa Pierno, National Parks Action Fund Board Chair. “For years, parks have welcomed record number of visitors, while also dealing with massive decreases in staffing, budget cuts and billions of dollars in needed repairs across the system. Fortunately, the 116th Congress has begun to right these wrongs and cast votes to match their national park rhetoric.”

The Action Fund, affiliated with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), evaluated park-related votes taken by the House and Senate during the 116th Congress. The scored votes include a variety of issues affecting parks, including key votes concerning park funding, oil and gas development near parks, cabinet nominations, and protections for water and wildlife.

According to the Action Fund’s 2019-2020 Congressional Scorecard:

  • 70% of all members of Congress voted to pass the John Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act and the Great American Outdoors Act
  • 51% of House members and 43% of senators received an A rating
  • Percentage of members of Congress receiving an F dropped by 16% (from 53% in 2016 to 37% in 2020)
  • Percentage of senators receiving an F dropped by 24% (from 47% in 2016 to 23% in 2020)
  • 41% of senators increased their 2020 ratings from their 2016 ratings
  • Eight full state delegations received a 100% rating
  • Three full state delegations received an F rating

“This scorecard brings to light the power our national parks have to unify us, even during some of the most divisive times our country has faced,” said Pierno. “Lawmakers across the aisle came together to put national parks and public lands over politics. In doing so, more people will have access to these places, and they will receive many of the protections they deserve. But while there’s much to be proud of, we must also recognize and address the ongoing threats to our parks, from the effects of climate change to funding struggles to fossil fuel extraction that could have a profound and lasting impact on these places.”

Despite the wins national parks received under the 116th Congress, there remains much work to be done. National parks still face cuts to their budget, including reductions in rangers to care for them. All while the current administration and many in Congress continue to attack the laws that protect our public lands, air, waterways and wildlife, even amid a devastating global health pandemic.

“As we prepare for the start of a new Congress next year, we urge members to think hard about the impact their votes could have on our public lands, the air we breathe and the water we drink. And more than ever before, we need a Congress that will stand up to an administration when it counts,” added Pierno. “The American people need and deserve lawmakers who will ensure everyone, no matter where they live, has access to outdoor spaces, and that these places can continue to thrive for generations.” Click here to view the Action Fund’s 2019-2020 Congressional Scorecard.


About National Parks Action Fund National Parks Action Fund (Action Fund) is the affiliated 501(c)(4) of National Parks Conservation Association. The Action Fund’s goals are to protect, restore, and fund the National Park System by informing the public about threats facing our parks, educating members of Congress about proposals to help parks, and influencing candidates’ positions to forward those proposals.