National Parks in State of Crisis

Date:   July 2, 2003
Contact:   Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332

National Parks in State of Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today challenged the Bush administration to cease its damaging national park policies and show leadership to protect America's treasures.

"This administration--like past administrations--has done some good things for parks, but the fact remains that the vast majority of the administration's policies have been harmful to the parks and the experiences of visitors," said NPCA President Thomas Kiernan.

"The administration may celebrate if it restores a ranger station or a visitor center, but not when it is also replacing park staff with low-bid contractors," Kiernan added. "It is time for this administration to actually do what it claims to be doing and finally 'restore and renew' the national parks."

NPCA gave the administration a D minus in early June for failing to act as responsible stewards of the national parks. Among the leading reasons for the very low grade, as cited in the nonpartisan organization's detailed, fact-based assessment of the past two and a half years, is the administration's roll back of the Clean Air Act, the industry-friendly decision to allow noisy, polluting snowmobiles to continue operating in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, failure to address the parks' $600 million annual funding shortfall and eliminate the backlog of park maintenance projects as promised, and an aggressive push from Washington to privatize up to 70 percent of all positions in the already understaffed National Park Service.

"During his campaign, then Governor Bush indicated strong support for the national parks. Unfortunately, this administration's positions and decisions fall far short of the campaign promises," said Theodore Roosevelt IV, the great-grandson of Republican conservationist, President Teddy Roosevelt. "Today our national parks are deteriorating. To our shame, we are not acting as responsible stewards for our parks and bequeathing them onto the next generation in improved condition."

"After a careful, park-by-park study by the National Parks Conservation Association, a body of serious people with three generations of experience studying the National Park System, the administration received a D minus, a grade that many believe to be generous," said Roger Kennedy, former director of the National Park Service. "Now, to distract attention from that deplorable rating, that administration has organized a stagy set of photo-ops and offered deceptive rhetoric, when what is needed is hard work, adequate staff, and sufficient funds to protect our national treasures."

"The president has a responsibility to the citizens of this nation to make national park protection a priority-and not a victim-of this administration's actions," Kiernan said.


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