The National Park Foundation’s “Hill Day” provides a valuable opportunity to learn how the Foundation educates and advocates Congressional members and staff about the important work of the National Park Foundation (NPF) and its partner groups, like the Friends. It was beneficial to become familiar with the importance and the approach needed to ask members of Congress to continue to help fund and increase the funding for the Foundation.

Attendees, with pre-arranged appointments were instructed to thank the congressional members and staff for supporting the Reauthorization Act passed in the FY 23 Omnibus package. This legislation outlines that the NPF will be authorized to receive appropriations through the fiscal year 2030, at an annual amount of up to $15 million. An additional $10 million was authorized this year for NPF and those funds must be matched dollar-for-dollar with private philanthropic dollars to receive government funding. Those dollars go directly into national parks.

The second legislative ask pertained to finding federal funding to improve the National Park Service employee housing. Affordable housing for NPS staff is an issue in attracting employees. We are all aware affordable housing is lacking in the Charleston area. The NPF identified the LODGE Act, introduced last Fall that could assist in offering or upgrading current NPS staff housing.

The next talking point for our meetings involved the Great American Outdoors Act. There was not a specific ask, but we were advised to mention the importance of reauthorizing the act next year. With overwhelming deferred maintenance in our Charleston Parks, it was of interest to the congressional staffs representing our area.

Finally, each partner group representative was encouraged to speak on behalf of the Parks we represent. After discussing some of the NPS priority projects for the next five years, it became apparent the representatives of Senators Graham and Scott, as well as Representative Clyburn are most eager to become involved in our efforts to support the Parks. They were equally enthusiastic about the initiatives the Friends are funding to ensure Fort Moultrie is putting their best foot forward for America’s 250th in 2026.

Additionally, Hill Day was a unique opportunity to meet NPF staff and explain our needs. Concentrating on showcasing our needs at the Friends and begin our discussions about how NPF can help us make Fort Moultrie the best it can be leading up to 2026 was extremely valuable. I look forward to forging strong and beneficial relationships with the congressional offices representing the Charleston Parks as well as the National Parks Foundation.