How are national recreation areas funded?

Congress appropriates funding annually for national recreation areas in the Department of the Interior’s budget for the operations of the National Park Service. The level of funding is based on the scale and scope of the operations. Two relevant partnership-focused examples in the NPS budget for fiscal year 2019 are Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, at $1.1 million, with 16 full-time-equivalent staff, and Mississippi River National River and Recreation Area, which has a budget of $1.7 million and 24 total staff.

To supplement federal funding, management of the CNRA would utilize additional funding tools, including philanthropy, recreation fees  at National Park Service properties, and other revenue sources. Opt-in partners would continue to provide funding for their own sites.

It is the goal of core nonprofit partners, especially the Chesapeake Conservancy, to raise private funds to supplement the budget for the CNRA. This funding may come from local and national private sources, such as competitive grants, foundations, and private donors. Achieving national recreation area status typically expands private fundraising opportunities by enhancing the region’s ability to compete for funding from non-local sources.

The proposed Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act would permanently authorize the Chesapeake Gateways program as a part of the CNRA and should include sufficient base funding for management of the Gateways program and the national recreation area.  This would enhance the technical and financial assistance now provided to various state and local agencies and non-governmental organizations.