|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||February 5, 2002|
|Contact:||Andrea Keller, NPCA, 202-454-3332|
Interior's Parks Budget Inches Forward, Falls Short of Need
Both the administration's new Cooperative Conservation Initiative (CCI) and the $18-million increase allocated toward the Natural Resource Challenge will somewhat improve resource protection for the parks. But, setting aside CCI and additional funds requested for park security, the overall proposed operating budget increase is almost identical to the previous year's request, compromising the ability of the National Park Service (NPS) to protect park resources and provide a high-quality experience for each of the parks' 285 million visits.
We applaud the administration's stated support of the National Parks Conservation Association/NPS Business Plan Initiative process, which has demonstrated the funding and management needs of the national parks. This research indicates that due to funding shortfalls, plant and wildlife species are disappearing, important archaeological sites are not being protected, education programs are being reduced, and irreplaceable historic structures are crumbling.
During his campaign, President Bush pledged $4.9 billion over five years for the "upkeep of these national treasures." This commitment could alleviate many of the threats that plague the National Park System, but only if the money is distributed in a way that satisfies diverse park needs including science, resource protection, and education, in addition to park infrastructure repair and enhancement.
Instead, the president's fiscal year 2003 budget proposal falls well short of necessary funding and in fact, does not "keep that promise on track" (to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog in the national parks by 2006), providing only $663 million toward the backlog—nearly the same as the previous year.
The coalition of Americans for National Parks, of which the National Parks Conservation Association is a member, is seeking a $280 million increase in the NPS fiscal year 2003 operating budget to primarily protect cultural and natural resources and fund important needs in visitor education. We are committed to working with the administration and Congress to protect and preserve the awe-inspiring majesty of our National Park System for generations to come.