National Park Service Plan Offers New Direction

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   August 1, 2001
Contact:   Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332


National Park Service Plan Offers New Direction

Washington, D.C. - "Rethinking the National Parks for the 21st Century," a report released today by the National Park System Advisory Board, sets far-reaching management goals for the Park Service intended to yield greater protection for wildlife and historic sites and better services for park visitors. A recent opinion poll indicates public support for the new goals and provides strong encouragement for the Bush Administration to further refine and improve its important national parks agenda.

Completed by Wirthlin Worldwide for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nationwide poll indicated that 76 percent of Americans believe the priority of the Park Service should be to protect plants, animals, and historical artifacts. Consistent with that preference, those polled said they would like nearly three quarters of new government funding spent on protecting wildlife, preserving artifacts, and increasing visitor education programs.

Citizen emphasis on funding these goals runs counter to President Bush's plan to apply virtually all new funding to refurbishing park buildings and roads. "Those polled said that only 27 percent of new park funds should be used for bricks and mortar," said Thomas Kiernan, NPCA president. "The advisory board's report should provide the Administration with a useful guide for continuing to improve its national parks agenda."

The report calls for the Park Service to help in the creation of protected corridors between parks in order to keep wildlife populations from becoming isolated as surrounding lands are developed. The report also calls for stronger protection of marine resources, such as the nation's highly jeopardized coral reefs, and for heightened protection of biological diversity within parks. A culturally inclusive approach to interpretation of events at historical sites and greater ethnic diversity among Park Service staff also are set as goals.

"The report lays out a strong and exciting vision for the National Park System and will put the parks on a solid foundation for protecting wildlife and whole ecosystems and for serving Americans of all races and backgrounds," Kiernan said.

A proper level of new funding for the Park Service is crucial to ensuring that the goals are accomplished. The National Park System has long been underfunded, leading to backlogs in the protection of natural and cultural resources such as wildlife species and historical artifacts and in building repairs. The Bush Administration has pledged to increase park funding by nearly $5 billion over the next five years but has emphasized retiring the building-repair backlog while ignoring the backlog of resource-protection needs.

"The advisory board is aiming the parks in the right direction, and NPCA encourages the Bush Administration to join this vision," Kiernan said. "If carried out, the plan will bring significant and needed improvements to the park system."


Editor's note: A detailed commentary on the goals outlined in the National Park System Advisory Board report as well as results of the Wirthlin Worldwide/NPCA public opinion poll are available by contacting Andrea Keller at 202-454-3332.

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