|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||August 8, 2001|
|Contact:||Dave Simon, National Parks Conservation Association, cell: 505-280-2319|
NPCA Urges Focus on Funding Needs for Norton, Mainella Visit to Grand Canyon
"We are delighted that Secretary Norton and Director Mainella decided to visit the park. Grand Canyon is one of our nation's crown jewels," said National Parks Conservation Association Southwest Regional Director Dave Simon. "But it is also a metaphor for the dismal condition of many of our national parks. Certainly, the park has serious needs for upgraded facilities, transit, and visitor services. But frequently overlooked is that the park lacks sufficient funding to support critical activities, such as resource management and scientific research."
Simon pointed to facts such as that the park's endangered California condor recovery program is now sustained by donations, the Park Service does not adequately monitor key wildlife populations along the Colorado River corridor, and the park's Science Center operation is not even covered by base funding in the park's budget.
Simon suggested that the Bush Administration also address the regional haze clouding Grand Canyon and other parks; restart the Colorado River management and backcountry planning process; finalize a visitor transportation plan that preserves a light rail system as a long-term solution to traffic congestion, and evaluate the environmental impacts of the new Greenway trail system prior to constructing additional segments of the trail.
"Secretary Norton and Director Mainella are in a prime position to preserve Grand Canyon and our other national parks," said Simon. "But as it stands, the Bush Administration's plan for the national parks does not adequately address natural and cultural resource protection at this park or elsewhere."
President Bush has proposed adding almost $5 billion to the national parks budget over the next five years, but the funding is directed toward road and construction projects. A nationwide opinion poll conducted recently by Wirthlin Worldwide for NPCA indicated that Americans would like nearly three quarters of all new government funding spent on protecting wildlife, preserving artifacts, and increasing visitor education programs-instead of infrastructure.
"This is strong encouragement for the Bush Administration to further refine and improve its important national parks agenda," said Simon.