Senators Request More Money for National Parks

Date:   May 6, 2004
Contact:   Andrea Keller, NPCA, 202-454-3332

Senators Request More Money for National Parks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today praised Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) for leading an effort in the U.S. Senate to provide much-needed funding for the National Park System.

“Our national parks need more champions like Craig Thomas and Bob Graham,” said NPCA President Thomas C. Kiernan. “The parks face myriad threats—one of the worst being insufficient funding, which is affecting the experiences of visitors and the ability of the National Park Service to protect the natural treasures and historic artifacts that make the parks worth preserving in the first place.”

Sen. Thomas and Sen. Graham sponsored a letter sent today to the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee requesting an additional $240 million for the national parks. Twenty senators signed the letter, which said, “While the National Park Service’s operating budget has increased in recent years, it has failed to keep pace with the increasing demands placed on our parks. As you are aware, annual funding shortfalls have been exacerbated in recent years by Park Service absorption of homeland security costs, cost-of-living increases, and the rising costs of supplies, as well as several across-the-board cuts to Interior agencies.”

Senators that signed the letter are: Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Lamar Alexander R-Tenn.), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John Warner (R-Va.), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Barbara Milkulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Max Baucus (D-MT), John Edwards (D-NC), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).

“This letter illustrates the strong, bipartisan support for increased national park funding as Congress prepares the parks’ fiscal year 2005 budget,” Kiernan added.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) and Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), co-chairs of the new National Parks Caucus, sponsored a similar letter in the U.S. House of Representatives, which was signed by 84 members.

As revealed in NPCA’s new report, Endangered Rangers, national parks have been neglected for years, suffering from an annual operating shortfall in excess of $600 million and insufficient staff. As a result, visitors may not see many park rangers this summer, but they will see crumbling historic buildings and roads, and campgrounds and trails that are poorly maintained.

Americans for National Parks, an NPCA-led coalition made up of 375 chambers of commerce, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and park friends groups, is working to increase the operating budget of the parks to protect our national heritage and the experiences of 280 million visitors annually.


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