Rep. Kilmer recognized as National Park Champion, receives award

Rep. Kilmer receives award Wednesday for leadership on bipartisan public lands package

Sixth District U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer received the 2019 National Park Heritage Award Wednesday from the National Parks Conservation Association in recognition of Kilmer’s leadership on the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act.

“I was lucky to grow up with Olympic National Park in my backyard,” Kilmer said in a press release. “I’ve seen firsthand how our public lands have captivated both visitors and residents alike and served as key economic drivers for our local communities.”

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, ensuring the program can continue supporting conservation and recreation efforts in communities across the country.

“It’s an honor to recognize Rep. Kilmer for championing this historic law that will enhance the National Park System for generations to come,” Theresa Pierno, president of NPCA, said.

“We commend congressional leaders like Rep. Kilmer, who worked with colleagues across the aisle and across the country in support of our shared national parks and public lands that their constituents, and all Americans, care so deeply about.”

Since its inception, LWCF has supported over 600 projects for parks, trails and other outdoor spaces in Washington, including popular sites such as Olympic National Park, Lake Chelan, Gas Works Park and Riverside State Park. In that span, the fund has invested $675 million into Washington state’s economy.

“This legislation delivered on our region’s long-standing priorities to protect our environment and support continued access to our public lands for generations to come,” Kilmer said.

“From the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the creation of Washington’s first two National Heritage Areas, this represents a huge win for our region’s uniqueness, our economy and our public lands.”

The legislation also included a bill led by Kilmer and Rep. Denny Heck to establish a National Maritime Heritage Area in the state. The Kilmer-Heck Maritime Washington National Heritage Area Act, which was championed in the Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, the bill designates a majority of Western Washington’s shoreline as a National Heritage Area.

Kilmer also served as the lead Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, which would take existing government revenue and distribute it to the National Park Service to address a $12 billion maintenance backlog.

“I want to thank the National Parks Conservation Association for this award and for their tireless advocacy to help ensure Congress passed this critical bill.”

Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at