LODGE Act seeks to increase affordable housing for NPS employees

WASHINGTON — Congressman Blake Moore (R), who represents parts of Summit County, introduced the Lodging Options Developed for Government Employees (LODGE) Act Thursday alongside Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).

The LODGE Act will look to create 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,” a press release states.

“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.”

Last year, 44 units of the NPS set a record for recreation visits. Utah’s national parks experienced record visitation levels, with rates up nearly 80% since 2011.

The tourism surge and growth in short-term rentals have impacted the recruitment and retention of NPS and private sector employees that rely on affordable housing.

“Utah is known for our incredible national parks that attract millions of visitors each year,” said Congressman Blake Moore.

“As visitation levels continue to skyrocket, we must pursue creative solutions to add efficiency to our system, lower costs, and serve the needs of our communities. The LODGE Act will do just that by providing the NPS with the tools, they need to staff and manage these lands by improving access to housing and addressing recruiting and retention challenges, thus enhancing the overall experience for all who work in and enjoy our national parks.”

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