Bush Budget Doesn't Fulfill Park Needs

Date:   April 10, 2001
Contact:   Tom Kiernan, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-223-6722

Bush Budget Doesn't Fulfill Park Needs

Washington, D.C. - "President Bush's commitment to preserving national park resources through the Natural Resource Challenge is to be commended," said National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) President Thomas Kiernan. "But this $20-million Band-Aid is anything but sufficient."

The Bush Administration's $20 million budget appears to be the only additional funding provided for the protection of natural and cultural resources. Put in context of the $600 million or more that is needed annually to manage, protect, and interpret adequately the natural and cultural treasures in the parks, this amount falls sadly short of real park needs.

"Giving the Park Service only $20 million for resource needs is like putting a patient on life support and providing no electricity," Kiernan said. "We will continue to lose plant and animal species and historic and cultural artifacts and national parks also will continue to suffer from degrading air quality."

The Natural Resource Challenge is the Park Service's own program for protecting park resources. The initiative encourages the Park Service to provide for protection and restoration of native plants and animals with enhanced monitoring efforts; identify, map, and evaluate non-native species for effective management; expand efforts to monitor and understand air and water quality in parks; support scientific monitoring in the parks; and inventory park resources.

Last year, the Park Service released a long-term goals report that projects a decline of threatened and endangered wildlife, declining air quality, and increasing problems with non-native species in national parks by 2005.

Poor air quality placed Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Texas' Big Bend National Park on NPCA's 2001 list of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks, released last week.

Glacier National Park has insufficient funding for resource protection, placing it on NPCA's list of endangered parks as well.

"When you look at what the Administration has proposed, the tremendous focus on bricks and mortar issues like road repair is disturbing, and comes at the expense of the park resources themselves," Kiernan said. "The budget shows a $79 million gain to operate the parks over last year's levels. Backing out the $20 million for the Natural Resource Challenge and the $46 million in fixed cost increases for employee salaries, it leaves $13 million, and of that almost everything is going to bricks and mortar projects. This is not the trend we were hoping to see."


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