How can the Helium Stewardship Act from five years ago have anything to do with renovations in our national parks? We are going to tell you!
At 2:45 in the video, you hear Yosemite Conservancy President, Frank Dean mention that there is Federal money available to fund half of a $13 million dollar renovation at Yosemite National Park’s Bridalveil Fall.
The Federal funds Dean is referencing come from an law put into place by President Obama half a decade ago.
That law, of all things, has to do with the sale of helium.
2013 Helium Stewardship Act
The Helium Stewardship Act was signed in 2013 in part to help alleviate the helium shortage.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) stores massive amounts of helium underground at the Federal Helium Reserve near Amarillo, Texas. At one time, roughly 15% of all the known helium in the world was stored here.
The Helium Stewardship Act mandated the BLM to sell crude helium to private companies and bidders through a series of auctions, until 2021. At that time, all of the Federal Helium Reserve’s property, equipment, and helium will be sold off to a privatized system.
By selling the helium competitively, the public helium market stabilizes and the debt incurred by the BLM would begin to be paid back to the U.S. Treasury.
What does this have to do with our national parks?
How the Helium Stewardship Act funds park renovation
Part of the result of the Helium Stewardship Act was the mandate that $50 million of the money brought in from the federal sale of crude helium was to be set aside for the improvements and renovations of the nation’s park system.
The only catch was that the amount of funding would need to be matched by private donations. In other words – if you come up with half, the government will pay the other half.
Now, some of that money is starting to be put to work.
The Yosemite Conservancy was able to raise half of the reportedly $13 million to improve the aging facilities around Bridalveil Falls. That made them eligible to have the rest funded by the proceeds of the Helium Stewardship Act.
So there you have it. Buy some helium, support the national parks!
Learn more about the Bridalveil project here.