THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am pleased to sign into law S. 1693, the "National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998."
The Act, which passed with bipartisan support in both Houses of Congress, is a major victory for all Americans who treasure and want to preserve the cultural and natural resources our parks have to offer. The Act contains a number of measures to assist National Park Service operations. This legislation is the first major overhaul of the way that the National Park Service awards concessions contracts in more than 3 decades. It ensures that all major contracts will be awarded through competitive bidding and makes concessions franchise fees available directly to the Park Service to improve the parks. These changes will result in better service to visitors and a better return to the taxpayers.
The Act requires the development of a training program that will allow Park Service employees the opportunity to gain the skills and experience they will need to protect parks. It also allows the Secretary of the Interior to lease park buildings consistent with other park legislation, and it lays out a clear process for the Park Service to recommend areas to be studied for possible inclusion into the National Park System.
Finally, the Act establishes a park "passport," which includes a collectible stamp that provides an innovative way for the public to directly support parks. My Administration will work to minimize any confusion that may result between the introduction of this new parks-only passport and the continued use of the Golden Eagle Passport, which provides access to all public lands.
I commend retiring Senator Dale Bumpers, Senator Craig Thomas, and Representatives Don Young and George Miller for their outstanding work in forging a consensus to bring about the passage of S. 1693.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, November 13, 1998.
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