|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||April 1, 2004|
|Contact:||Craig Obey, Vice President for Government Affairs, 202-223-6722, ext. 234
Andrea Keller, Director of Media Relations, 202-454-3332
"Get Outdoors Act" Promises Funding for Parks
Washington, D.C. - Nonpartisan parks watchdog, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), today praised the introduction of the Get Outdoors Act by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) as a significant step toward addressing the funding needs of America’s national parks.
“This legislation will enable the National Park Service to keep our national parks protected and funded so they can better tell America’s unique and diverse story while providing inspiring experiences for park visitors,” said NPCA Executive Vice President Tom Martin. “This strong show of bipartisan support is crucial to preserving our national heritage for the enjoyment of all Americans.”
In June 2002, President Bush said, “If you’re interested in doing something about your health, go to one of our parks—and take a hike.” But, Martin adds, “A healthy park experience requires healthy national parks.”
The Get Outdoors legislation, also known as the “GO Act,” would direct roughly $150 million annually to the Park Service to fund land acquisition necessary to protect national treasures and add to the diversity of our National Park System. The money would come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the GO Act directs to be fully funded at its authorized level of $900 million. The GO Act could also provide an additional $100 million or more each year to operate and maintain our national parks, which are struggling under the weight of a $5 billion maintenance backlog and annual operating funding shortfalls exceeding $600 million. Funding from this legislation would also address Park Service historic preservation needs.
The GO Act can facilitate the acquisition of critically needed lands at places like Petrified Forest National Park, where looters and development threaten 250 million-year-old dinosaur and plant fossils, pueblo ruins, American Indian graves, and priceless rock art. It also can provide the funds needed to protect national treasures like Valley Forge, where development recently threatened to inundate historic lands occupied by the Continental Army during its encampment in 1777-1778.
Funding for federal acquisition of national park lands has decreased more than 75 percent over the past three years from $125 million in 2001 to a mere $31 million currently in 2004. More than 40 parks received land acquisition monies in 2001, but only 14 parks were funded in 2004 while the need is system-wide.
Additional information about the funding needs of America’s national parks is available in NPCA’s new report, Endangered Rangers.