Members of Congress, New Coalition Call for More Money for National Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   February 28, 2002
Contact:   Andrea Keller, cell: 202-320-7844
Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi, 202-225-3130
Representative George Miller, 202-225-2095
Representative Mark Souder, 202-225-4436
Representative Brian Baird, 202-225-3536
Representative Rush Holt, 202-225-5801


Members of Congress, New Coalition Call for More Money for National Parks

Washington, D.C. - At a press conference today, the new coalition of Americans for National Parks and several Members of Congress called for a $280-million increase to the National Park Service’s fiscal year 2003 budget to protect the national parks.

“The Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco and its park partners, such as the Golden Gate National Parks Association, have done a stellar job of augmenting its resources with private funds and volunteers. Bay Area residents love and support the park. But the park desperately needs more public funds. Congress and the Bush Administration have a responsibility to provide the operating funds needed to protect the resources of the parks and provide visitors with an enriching experience,” said House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-8-CA).

“The national parks preserve America's great natural places and also America's rich and diverse history. The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, California, for example, commemorates the contribution of women and minorities to the homefront effort of World War II,” said Representative George Miller (D-7-CA). “It is critical that Congress provides adequate funding for Rosie the Riveter and other historical landmarks that document and celebrate the contributions ordinary citizens made to our freedom and that will educate generations to come about our nation's rich and important history.”

“Our federal budget needs to reflect that we have added new national parks, forests, monuments, and heritage areas over the last several years. Walking the ruins of Mesa Verde, hearing the echoes of the great national debates in Independence Hall, protecting the wilderness habitat of some of God's most remarkable creatures—these are some of the most precious and uniquely American parts of our cultural and natural heritage. It is our responsibility to preserve them, for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren,” said Representative Mark Souder (R-4-IN).

Research has shown that, on average, the national parks receive only two-thirds of the funding needed to fulfill their mission. Congress has regularly increased funding to protect these majestic, awe-inspiring places, the budget of the National Park Service has failed to keep pace with increased visitation and pollution, and over-development adjacent to the parks. Plant and wildlife species are disappearing. Important museum artifacts are not being preserved. Education programs are being reduced. Irreplaceable historic structures are crumbling.

“I'm fortunate to represent a district that includes a national park, a national monument, and a national historic reserve. Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, and the Vancouver Barracks are beautiful areas which attract important tourist dollars to our economy and must be preserved for the next generation,” said Representative Brian Baird (D-3-WA).

“Each year millions of American families enjoy the fresh air, natural splendor, and diverse wildlife of our national parks,” said Representative Rush Holt (D-12-NJ). “If we are to preserve our parks for future generations, however, we must heed the call of Americans for National Parks and invest the resources necessary for their continued preservation and maintenance.”

A diverse coalition of 150 businesses, trade associations, government agencies, and organizations from across the country, Americans for National Parks is building public demand for park protection. In shops and restaurants across Knoxville, Tennessee, and San Francisco, California, for example, Americans for National Parks has distributed 500,000 postcards addressed to the president in support of increased funding for the parks that individuals can simply sign and mail. The coalition is also advertising in several Capitol Hill publications, including Roll Call and the National Journal in the aim of educating legislators about the needs of the national parks and the campaign goal of increasing the annual operating budget of the Park Service.

“We need everyone’s support,” said Americans for National Parks Campaign Director Jennifer Coken, “because there’s just too much to lose.”


Americans for National Parks
Americans for National Parks is a growing coalition of nonprofit organizations, businesses, trade associations, individuals, and other nonpartisan supporters of the national parks, working to encourage Congress and the administration to address the full needs of the National Park System. Campaign information is available at www.americansfornationalparks.org.

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