Statement by Craig Obey, Vice President, National Parks Conservation Association on Secretary Norton's Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 21, 2004
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332, cell: 202-320-7844
Craig Obey, NPCA, cell: 202-669-9689


Statement by Craig Obey, Vice President, National Parks Conservation Association on Secretary Norton's Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

- "Proof that our national parks are in trouble is in the parks themselves. Instead of spinning the facts on a p.r. tour, the administration should focus on meeting the unmet needs of the individual parks that American families are visiting this summer.

"The administration’s new glossy report on the health of our parks would at best have received an incomplete from any teacher in the country. Although the administration promised to eliminate the $4.9 billion backlog of park maintenance projects and provide adequate funds for the national parks, there are fewer staff and fewer resources in parks across the country, impacting the experiences of visitors and worsening the backlog.

"In Colorado, educational programs have been cut at Colorado National Monument. Erosion, thievery, and vandalism threaten Rocky Mountain’s archaeological sites because of a lack of staff to monitor and protect excavations and artifacts. And law enforcement and educational programs at Mesa Verde are threatened by dwindling funds.

"It would be more helpful if Secretary Norton today would announce plans to:

  • Work with Congress to address the parks’ annual shortfall, now in excess of $600 million
  • Work with Congress to make the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program permanent for parks,
  • Work with Congress to pass the transportation bill, which, under the higher funding levels in the Senate version of the bill, would provide approximately $300 million annually for six years for the repair and maintenance of crumbling park roads and bridges,
  • Seek an additional $150 million for base park operations in the FY2006 budget.

"Regrettably, neither the administration nor Congress has yet made much progress toward eliminating the backlog or ensuring that our national parks have the annual operating funds needed to educate and inspire visitors and protect the natural, cultural, and historic treasures in their care."

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