National Parks Yield Big Returns
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Welcome to World Class Assets: National Parks Yield Big Returns—a new report on Montana’s national parks and their positive and profound economic contributions to our local communities and way of life. Our national parks were established to provide a historical, cultural, and natural legacy that present and future generations can cherish and enjoy. The parks of the National Park System—388 at last count—have been set aside and are protected under a unique standard that (under the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916) mandates they remain “unimpaired for future generations.”
There is an important message in this report and it is a simple message. Montana’s national parks—Glacier and Yellowstone—are significant drivers of our local economies and cultures; our ability to protect and conserve them will determine whether they remain world-class assets over time. If we fail to protect these areas, their attraction for both residents and non-residents alike will decline, making our communities less attractive places in which to live, to do business and raise families, and to visit from near and far.
For many of us fortunate to live here, we may view Glacier, Yellowstone, and other units of the National Park System simply as extensions of our own backyards rather than as icon centerpieces of a protected system belonging to all Americans. As good neighbors to our national parks, we can wield great influence over their future. It is imperative for us to recognize the inarguable, significant place Montana’s national parks play in our lives and our pocketbooks; if we aspire to maintain our quality of life over time, then we must become stronger, better advocates for protection of these great places.
A six-year effort by NPCA to document park under-funding shows that the system operates at an annual deficit of more than $600 million. The backlog of needed park repairs has been estimated by the Government Accountability Office (Washington, D.C.) at over $6 billion. A recently released study for Yellowstone showed a 35% annual operating deficit—which translates to a gap of $22.7 million and 271 full-time employees.
NPCA continues to address these funding concerns. Our latest effort is "Reinvesting in America’s Heritage." To learn more and to stay informed, please join us by adding your voice for protection of Montana’s great parks. We hope you find World Class Assets a useful report that you’ll keep handy and use in the months ahead to help us advocate for the future of Montana’s national parks.
Download the full report as a PDF file, which can be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader