|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||November 13, 2002|
|Contact:||Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332|
Top 10 Reasons Congress Should Pass the Budget Now
“It appears that Congress will adjourn for the year without passing the budget,” said Americans for National Parks Campaign Director Jennifer Coken. “Park protection should not be a casualty of ideological battles. Congress should not abdicate its responsibility to protect America’s most sacred places—no matter what the distractions.”
Top 10 Reasons to Pass the Budget (projects are included in the pending legislation):
1. Thieves are walking off with artifacts from 12th- and 13th-century Southwest cultures at Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico.
2. Stories of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen need to be collected and preserved by the Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project in Atlanta, Georgia, before all of the heroic pilots die.
3. A developer is threatening to build a luxury housing community on the site of General George Washington’s historic 1777-78 encampment at Valley Forge National Historical Park.
4. Falling debris might harm visitors to Alcatraz at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco if balconies on the former prison’s barracks are not repaired.
5. Antifreeze and other contaminants in parking lot runoff are poisoning the fragile underground ecosystem at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.
6. More than a million 17th-century artifacts from the first English settlement in America at Jamestown, Virginia, are endangered, stored in a basement at Colonial National Historical Park that has to be surrounded by sandbags to protect it from flooding during rainstorms.
7. The historic granite carriage road bridges at Acadia National Park in Maine are corroding.
8. Saguaro cacti and archaeological sites remain vulnerable at Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona, without funding to acquire and protect acreage outside this fast-growing metropolis.
9. Twenty thousand acres of wildlife habitat and archaeological sites remain vulnerable at Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve in Colorado without funding to create Great Sand Dunes National Park.
10. It’ll be lights out for Mount Rainier. An antiquated power system needs to be replaced or Mount Rainier National Park staff and visitors will suffer through another year of power failures.
Research has shown that, on average, the national parks are operating with only two-thirds of the funding needed, creating a wide variety of critical needs ranging from deteriorating infrastructure to the loss of wildlife. Museum artifacts and archaeological sites are not being preserved, education programs are being reduced, and irreplaceable historic structures are crumbling.
The House Interior Subcommittee marked up the fiscal year 2003 budget of the National Park Service in June, providing $118.5 million over last year’s budget. The Senate Interior Subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee allocated $98 million over last year’s budget. “The 107th Congress should fulfill their commitment to the national parks and provide the highest level of funding possible,” Coken added.
Led by the National Parks Conservation Association, the 280-member coalition of Americans for National Parks is working with Congress and the administration to increase the operating budget of the National Park Service by $600 million annually to protect resources and the experiences of park visitors.