Congress Responds to New Report Citing Top 10 Reasons National Parks Need More Money

Date:   March 3, 2005
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332

Congress Responds to New Report Citing Top 10 Reasons National Parks Need More Money

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Faded Glory, a new report released today by the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) says that funding for America’s national parks is at a ‘bear’ minimum and lists the top 10 reasons parks need more money. The report calls for and has received immediate support from Congress: A bi-partisan group of congressional representatives today, led by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) and Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), introduced innovative legislation to fund America’s national parks.

“We’ve got ten reasons to invest in our national parks,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. “But we should need only one: the national parks are our heritage and need our help.”

NPCA’s new report, Faded Glory: Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Park Heritage, points out that the Park Service’s budget is insufficient to address myriad needs including poaching and drug smuggling, invasive plants and animals, shoddy roads and trails, and cutbacks in educational programs for school groups and park visitors.

The top 10 reasons America’s national parks need more money:
· Reason # 1: Parks are vulnerable to crime
· Reason # 2: Cutbacks are affecting the education of schoolchildren and park visitors
· Reason # 3: Park roads are unsafe
· Reason # 4: Historic buildings are crumbling
· Reason # 5: Museum collections are collecting dust
· Reason # 6: Storms needn’t drown the parks—and their budgets
· Reason # 7: Invasive species are overrunning parks
· Reason # 8: Park science is inadequate
· Reason # 9: Park facilities are in bad shape
· Reason # 10: Neglected parks can’t be good neighbors

Rep. Mark Souder, Rep. Brian Baird, and a bipartisan group of members of Congress today introduced the National Park Centennial Act of 2005, which seeks to increase funding for the maintenance needs of the parks and fund natural and cultural preservation projects through 2016 — the 100th birthday of the Park Service. The legislation provides new funding for the parks from the general treasury and from an innovative, voluntary check-off on federal tax returns, and is designed to enable Congress to more effectively address park operating needs on an annual basis.

“Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the National Park Service has been given substantial, additional duties relating to homeland security, immigration, and narcotics. But even before September 11, the National Park Service was already struggling to meet its mission-driven responsibilities with limited funding, as well as to address a backlog of projects that were already in the pipeline,” Rep. Souder said. “The bipartisan legislation that we’re introducing today will help reduce this backlog and protect these jewels of our nation for future generations.”

“Each year, millions of Americans and tourists from around the world enjoy the beauty of our national parks, and it is our duty to preserve these natural treasures for future generations,” said Rep. Baird. “The National Park Centennial Act of 2005 is a bipartisan bill that would protect our national parks and restore them to their full splendor.”

Other original co-sponsors of the bill include Rep. Philip English (R-PA), Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Bill Jenkins (R-TN), and Rep. Vic Snyder (D-AR).

NPCA says that the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2006 importantly recognizes the need to focus special attention on operating the parks and budgeting for uncontrolled costs, but is wholly insufficient to chip away at the parks’ more than $600-million annual operating shortfall. This month, Congress began holding a series of hearings about the adequacy of the budgets of agencies within the Department of Interior, including the Park Service.

“The National Parks are among the nation’s greatest treasures—and it’s up to us to ensure that future generations can experience them, enjoy them and be enriched by them,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “With the centennial of the National Park System in 2016, we have a great opportunity to get these magnificent places in order once and for all.”

Similar top 10 lists were released today by private national park philanthropies across the country.

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