Lack of Funding Threatens World's First National Park

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   August 5, 2003
Contact:   Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332


Lack of Funding Threatens World's First National Park

HELENA, MONTANA - Yellowstone National Park announced today the results of a comprehensive financial analysis that reveals an annual funding shortfall of $23 million — more than a third shy of the money required to protect the park and meet the needs of nearly three million visitors.

“Yellowstone is a national gem that each year is becoming more and more tarnished,” said Tony Jewett, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) Northern Rockies Senior Regional Director. “This new report provides concrete evidence of just how badly Yellowstone is underfunded and the impact of that insufficient funding on our first and most treasured national park.”

Yellowstone National Park participated in a six-year-old nationwide partnership between the National Park Service and NPCA to complete a financial analysis and write a business plan for park management. To date, the partnership program, called the Business Plan Initiative, has used M.B.A. and public policy graduate students to analyze more than 60 national park sites across the country, setting priorities for funding and improving and preserving park resources.

Research shows on average that national parks are operating with only two-thirds of the needed funding. Yellowstone lacks about one third of the funds it needs as well as more than 200 employees. As a result, public education programs are limited and trails are not adequately maintained. The Park Service is unable to monitor Yellowstone’s nonnative species, such as the lake trout that threatens the survival of the park’s native cutthroat trout as well as 42 known bird and mammal species that depend on the native trout for food. Additionally, insufficient staffing leaves Yellowstone’s backcountry vulnerable to poaching and other illegal activities, impedes emergency response time, and provides limited educational opportunities for hikers.

“Yellowstone is representative of the trend of parks across the system. Funding is short by a third or more—limiting the ability of the Park Service to protect our national heritage,” Jewett added. “Yellowstone is being held together by dedicated, professional staff doing multiple jobs and working beyond maximum capacity. But there are costs to this Band-Aid approach and protection of America’s first national park is lapsing. Solutions must be found.”

Several Montana and Wyoming-based businesses, chambers of commerce, and nonprofit organizations have joined the 330-member coalition of Americans for National Parks, a campaign led by NPCA, to encourage Congress and the administration to address the full needs of Yellowstone and the entire National Park System by increasing funding for the parks by $600 million annually.

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