Rep. Blake Moore’s LODGE Act passes the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent

Today, Congressman Blake Moore’s Lodging Options Developed for Government Employees (LODGE) Act passed the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous support. Introduced with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), this legislation will foster innovative public-private partnerships to increase the availability of affordable housing in and around our national parks. 

“My colleagues and I are committed to finding ways to improve government programs while simultaneously saving taxpayer dollars,” said Congressman Blake Moore. “The LODGE Act is a great example of how these goals come together to make a positive impact. Not only will the passage of this bill bring relief to the housing markets for National Park Service employees around our gateway communities, but it will also provide them with better living and working conditions so they can focus on maintaining our national parks for generations to come. I am thrilled the LODGE Act unanimously passed the House Natural Resources Committee today, and I look forward to supporting this bill through the legislative process.”

The LODGE Act will cut red tape and provide the National Park Service (NPS) with new authorities and increased flexibility to enter into innovative housing partnerships. It will also reduce costs to the taxpayer, provide modern housing for both NPS employees and the private sector to rent, and improve NPS employee morale and the agency’s ability to hire and retain staff. This model is similar to those used successfully by other federal agencies, such as at Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park at Hill Air Force Base.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

Last year, 44 units of the NPS set a record for recreation visits. Utah’s national parks experienced record levels of visitation, with rates up nearly 80% since 2011. While a surge in tourism is beneficial to local economies, it poses major challenges for housing options in national park communities and their neighboring areas, known as gateway communities. In addition to this problem, property owners are using short-term rental services to rent their homes to vacationers rather than leasing them to NPS and private sector service employees. As a result, housing costs in many gateway communities have skyrocketed. The rapidly rising cost of housing is impacting the recruitment and retention of both NPS and private sector service employees that rely on available and affordable housing.