Bush Plan for National Parks Strong on Short-term Fix, Weaker on Long-term Solution, NPCA Says

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   September 13, 2000
Contact:   Thomas Kiernan, President, NPCA, 202-454-3300
Andrea Keller, NPCA, 202-454-3332


Bush Plan for National Parks Strong on Short-term Fix, Weaker on Long-term Solution, NPCA Says

Washington - "George W. Bush's promise to eliminate the national parks maintenance and resource-protection-projects backlog with increased funding is a bright spot in a presidential campaign too often silent on environmental issues," says Thomas Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). "We have been neglecting the national parks at the expense of future generations. Bush's promise of more funding is a substantial start toward ending that neglect. His emphasis on improving science in the parks also is a good first step toward a desperately needed expansion of the Park Service's scientific and resource-protection capability."

A fact sheet issued by the Bush campaign preliminary to a speech in Monroe, Washington, today on environmental issues indicates that Bush is committed to eliminating a backlog of national park maintenance and resource-protection needs within five years by seeking $4.9 billion in funding. He also promises to increase by $20 million annually the funding for scientific research, such as inventories of plant and animal species native to parks.

"Providing the money needed to get rid of the maintenance backlog is key to getting the parks into peak condition," says Kiernan. "But it is only half the story. The backlog is the result of a $500-million to $1-billion shortfall in the National Park Service's annual operating budget, according to preliminary figures from the NPCA/National Park Service Business Plan Initiative, which has analyzed the on-going financial needs of 26 national parks. Governor Bush's proposal fixes the backlog problem, but does not solve the underlying problem of an inadequate annual budget for the Park Service to protect the plants, animals, and historic artifacts in its care."

For example, Mount Rainier National Park, within sight of Monroe, Washington, has budget shortfalls that keep the park from adequately monitoring its 10 federally listed threatened and endangered species, such as the Pacific salmon. Montana's Glacier National Park lacks the means to determine why gray wolves there have declined 75 percent since 1997.

"We must address both the backlog and the annual budget shortfall if we are to protect the parks for future generations," says Kiernan.

"George Bush has the beginnings of a good agenda for park protection, but critical elements are still missing, such as preservation of cultural artifacts, improvements in park air quality, and the need to expand existing parks and even create new parks to avoid the loss of our cultural and natural heritage," Kiernan says. "Nevertheless, Governor Bush's proposal is a strong challenge to the Gore campaign to step up to the plate and show the American people what a Gore Administration would do for the natural and cultural resource protection of our National Parks."

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