Congressmen Blake Moore and Jimmy Panetta reintroduce the bipartisan LODGE Act

Congressmen Blake Moore (R-UT) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) reintroduced the Lodging Options Developed for Government Employees (LODGE) Act for the 118th Congress to foster innovative public-private partnerships to increase the availability of affordable housing in and around our nation’s parks.

This legislation 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.

“Utah is home to some of our nation’s most visited natural wonders, and we heavily rely on our National Park Service (NPS) employees and volunteers to ensure quality experiences for all,” said Congressman Blake Moore. “It is essential that we pursue creative solutions to our housing challenges in and around our national parks so the NPS can attract and retain quality talent and relieve economic pressures in surrounding communities. As national park visitation only continues to climb, I am excited to again champion the LODGE Act with my friend Congressman Panetta and advocate for innovative private-public housing partnerships that will greatly benefit our national park system.”

“Too many of our national parks and their surrounding areas lack affordable housing for park service employees,” said Congressman Jimmy Panetta. “I’m proud to reintroduce the LODGE Act with Rep. Moore that would allow for public-private partnerships in order to create a much-needed supply of housing in those high-demand regions.  This is bipartisan and innovative solution for affordable housing that would help the Park Service better hire and retain staff and ensure consistent access for our visitors to our national treasures.”

“Our biggest challenge with housing is simply that we need more of it, both in Utah’s urban and rural areas,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “Rep. Moore’s legislation is an important step to get more housing in our beautiful gateway communities, relieving the burden on local residents, tourists, and the workers we need to make the national parks run smoothly.”

“Continuing to provide an exceptional visitor experience at our national parks means having sufficient staff,” said Joel Ferry, Executive Director, Utah Department of Natural Resources. “Rep. Moore’s legislation will help expand affordable housing, which is critical to attracting and retaining quality employees. Utah is home to some of the most stunning parks in the country and attracts visitors from around the globe. Let’s make sure we have the resources to care for them.”

“The Lodge Act is a fantastic initiative to provide affordable housing for workers in and around national parks,” said Vicki Varela, Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism. “We appreciate Congressman Moore’s leadership to cut red tape, provide relief for NPS employees, and improve the quality of the experience for national park visitors.”

“The lack of affordable housing for National Park Service employees, and those who work with them, is an urgent issue impacting parks from Hawaii to Maine,” said Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Improving housing conditions for employees, volunteers, and those who partner with the National Park Service is critical to fulfilling the mission.  It ensures these most treasured spaces are able to hire staff they need, visitors have meaningful experiences, and resources remain protected for generations to come. The National Park Foundation is committed to this important work and supporting the bipartisan LODGE Act as one piece of the puzzle in moving this effort forward.”

Full text of the bill can be found here.

This legislation is supported by the National Park Foundation. 

In 2021, 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 recruitment and retention of both NPS and private sector service employees that rely on available and affordable housing.