Group Names Annual List of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   April 4, 2001
Contact:   Tom Kiernan, President, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332


Group Names Annual List of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks

Washington, D.C. - Air pollution, development, insufficient funding, and recent actions by the Bush Administration threaten our national parks, particularly the ten that have been named to the National Parks Conservation Association's third annual list of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks. "It is an open question as to whether this Administration is a friend or foe of our national parks," said National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) President Thomas Kiernan.

"Although our national parks are protected, they are increasingly in trouble," said Kiernan. "The Bush Administration has pledged $4.9 billion for national park protection. We commend this pledge as well as the proposed budgeting reforms for the Park Service. Unfortunately, their initial follow through on the funding promise is weak and other actions that they are taking will not help the parks, but in fact hurt them."

Yielding to special interest groups, the Bush Administration in recent weeks has mentioned reopening Yellowstone to snowmobiles, renewed leases of summer houses inside Biscayne National Park for the benefit of a small group of individuals instead of the general public, announced interest in drilling for oil in national monuments, and reversed the decision to regulate carbon dioxide emissions--all decisions that will damage national parks and the quality of the visitor experience.

The parks on this year's list and their biggest threats are:

  • Alaskan parks, including Denali, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, and Wrangell-St. Elias: Proposed development, lack of funding, and motorized abuse
  • Big Bend National Park (Texas): Air pollution and reduced water flow threaten this park, Texas' largest and oldest park
  • Fire Island National Seashore (New York): Proposed beach re-sanding project may cause more harm than good
  • Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (Washington, DC): Insufficient funding results in deteriorating historic books, furnishings, and photographs
  • Glacier National Park (Montana): Park infrastructure is crumbling, and development threatens park boundaries; insufficient funding is crippling the park's resource management capabilities
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina): Pollutants from nearby power plants threaten the health of the park
  • Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona): Visitors illegally disturb or steal up to 12 tons of petrified wood every year, and development threatens park views
  • Everglades, Biscayne Bay, and Big Cypress in south Florida: Water levels and pollution remain significant concerns for the three parks; off-road vehicle damage has scarred Big Cypress
  • Stones River National Battlefield (Tennessee): Road construction and development threaten this significant Civil War site
  • Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming and Montana): The park's bison are harassed by snowmobiles and killed by Montana agriculture officials when the animals wander off federal land in search of food during winter

Chronic air pollution clouds two endangered national parks: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park. Although Big Bend is new to the list, Great Smokies returns for the third consecutive year as pollutants from nearby power plants continue to damage park views and the health of wildlife and plants. Many of our national parks are affected by regional haze, caused by the emissions of sulfur dioxide from old, inefficient power plants. In March, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced bills (the Clean Smokestacks Act of 2001 in the House and the Clean Power Act of 2001 in the Senate) that would require polluting power plants to modernize and reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury in a manner which is fair, cost efficient, and technically feasible. Recently, bowing to pressure from industry lobbyists, the president dropped his support for regulating power plant emissions of carbon dioxide.

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site also is new to NPCA's annual endangered parks list, but illustrates the financial needs of national parks across the country. Lack of funding has compromised the Park Service's ability to preserve the home. Interior and exterior features need repair and rehabilitation, and the prominent African-American scholar's books, textiles, furnishings and photographs are deteriorating from age and exposure. Insufficient funding also plagues Glacier National Park, also new to NPCA's list of endangered parks.

"We are urging the Bush Administration to put $2.8 billion of the Administration's proposed $4.9 billion into resource protection and visitor education," Kiernan said. "If we can redirect the proposed funding, we will begin to see more parks moving off this endangered list."

Visit the National Parks Conservation Association at www.npca.org or call 800-NAT-PARK for more information about all of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks.

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