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National Park Foundation and National Park Service Announce $40 Million Gift to Meet Urgent Need for Employee Housing at Yellowstone National Park

Donation intended to accelerate philanthropic investment to support new employee housing across the national park system

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The National Park Foundation (NPF) and National Park Service (NPS) today announced a $40 million gift to expand and improve NPS employee housing at Yellowstone, America’s first national park. The new investment made possible by donors who wish to remain anonymous will fund more than 70 new modular units to address the critical shortage of employee housing at the park.

Affordable housing for employees in and near national parks is increasingly scarce and expensive, reflecting a trend impacting communities across the country, forcing park employees to commute long distances between work and home and making it difficult for NPS to recruit and retain employees.

“This transformational gift will meet a critical need for new housing in Yellowstone, and be a catalyst for more philanthropic investment,” said Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “These skilled, dedicated professionals at the National Park Service who protect our parks and make visitors’ experiences great deserve housing they can be proud to call home.”

National parks across the country are grappling with the challenge of providing quality housing for the people who care for parks.

“The housing challenges facing each park are unique, and so are the solutions,” said Chuck Sams, Director of the National Park Service. “The ability to recruit and retain a talented workforce remains essential to our ability to protect parks and to ensure a world-class visitor experience. NPS is committed to innovative solutions that contribute to meeting the demand for employee housing across the National Park System. I am incredibly grateful to the donors to the National Park Foundation whose tremendous generosity will help NPS address this critical need.”

National park employees include rangers, resource specialists, maintenance staff, and many other employees that make parks amazing places to visit, all dedicated to protecting parks and providing world class visitor experience to an increasing number of park visitors – 325.5 million last year alone. The care of America’s national parks and the quality of visitor experience depend on recruiting and retaining talented and devoted NPS employees and on the availability of affordable housing.

The need is not isolated to Yellowstone.

NPS employs 20,000 people who support operations at 429 parks located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In all, there are more than 5,600 housing facilities in over 200 parks, ranging from 100-year-old cabins to modern dormitories and duplexes in urban and rural communities as well as remote areas. More than 15,600 people rely on these homes, including 2,800 permanent and 5,000 seasonal employees, as well as volunteers, and employees of concessionaires and park partner organizations.

The current shortage of employee housing is the result of a combination of factors, including rising property values in communities surrounding parks and increasing demand for vacation rentals near national parks. The NPS invests tens of millions annually to address housing operation, maintenance, repair, and construction, and to offset leased housing in nearby communities when in-park housing is not available. The $40 million donation is significant because it will allow Yellowstone National Park to construct entirely new housing.  

A National Park Foundation assessment of NPS housing needs at three national parks, Acadia, Yosemite, and Grand Teton, found that in total, those parks require more than $115 million in funding to add over 200 new employee housing units.

Private philanthropy is well-positioned to accelerate the pace of change across the National Park System. The $40 million gift will bridge the funding gap at Yellowstone National Park to meet the current need for employees housing in the park and provide a funding model to accelerate construction of employee housing at national parks across the country.

“This gift will be transformational in helping us continue improving employee housing across Yellowstone,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly. “Our thanks to the donors for their generosity and commitment to meet the needs of park employees and to the Park Foundation for its leadership and continued partnership.” 

Work on the new units in Yellowstone National Park is set to begin later this year. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at www.nationalparks.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 429 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

SOURCE National Park Foundation



Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-park-foundation-and-national-park-service-announce-40-million-gift-to-meet-urgent-need-for-employee-housing-at-yellowstone-national-park-302076081.html
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