|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 15, 2005|
|Contact:||Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332|
Congressional Hearing at Gettysburg Highlights Park's Funding Needs
GETTYSBURG, P.A. - Testifying at a congressional field hearing today about Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and other national parks in the Mid-Atlantic region, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) said: “Today, despite the strong support of the American people and increasing recognition in Congress that there is a problem in our parks, the National Park Service lacks the funds to do the job that Congress requires, visitors expect, and our national heritage demands.” The Gettysburg hearing, hosted by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), was the first in a series of field hearings to be held over the next two years to examine the funding needs of America’s national parks.
“The stakes of the funding debate for our national heritage are enormous,” said NPCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Joy Oakes. “As some have observed, if the Smithsonian Institution is the nation’s attic, the national parks are the rest of the house. We are grateful to you, Mr. Chairman, for helping us ensure that this great house of ours remains standing for generations to come.”
Congressman Souder is Chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee, co-founder of the House National Parks Caucus, and co-sponsor of the bipartisan National Park Centennial Act of 2005 (H.R. 1124), which was introduced on March 3, 2005, as a means to increase funding for the maintenance needs of the parks and fund natural and cultural preservation projects through 2016—the 100th birthday of the National Park System. The legislation provides new funding for the parks from the general treasury and from an innovative, voluntary check-off on federal tax returns. Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and Rep. Philip English (R-PA) are original co-sponsors of the bill.
Congressman Souder has announced that his subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over national parks, will conduct a series of hearings in national parks over the next two years to assess the funding needs that challenge the parks.
The National Park Service, the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation, Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, and the Civil War Preservation Trust also gave testimony today.
The National Parks Conservation Association’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 at parks from Gettysburg to Yosemite.
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