|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||June 28, 2005|
|Contact:||Andera Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332|
Nearly Half of Likely Voters Say They Won't Revisit a National Park in Bad Shape
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new poll conducted by Zogby International for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) reveals that 45% of likely voters plan to visit national parks or historic sites this summer. But if they discover that the restrooms, roads, visitor center, or other facilities are in poor condition, nearly half (47%) are not likely to return.
“Services in our national parks have been eroding for years, but these survey results show that there may come a day when visitors just stop coming because the parks aren’t meeting their expectations,” said NPCA National Park Funding Program Director Steve Bosak. “Congress needs to provide the necessary funding for the upkeep of our parks so that Americans continue to enjoy visiting these national treasures.”
According to the Zogby poll, 72% of likely voters also say it is very or somewhat important to them and their families that there are enough park rangers available to answer questions, give ranger walks and talks, and lead campfire programs. Additionally, 43% of respondents say that they visit national parks for the educational benefits.
Unfortunately, seasonal staff that once served visitors during peak summer season has been reduced over the past few years due to funding shortfalls. Full-time interpretive staff has also been reduced; there is only one interpreter per 100,000 visitors.
NPCA’s 2005 report, Faded Glory: Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Park Heritage points out that an annual funding shortfall in excess of $600 million has crippled America’s national parks, resulting in fewer park rangers and fewer public education programs, dirty restrooms, unsafe trails, and poorly maintained campgrounds in parks across the country. In addition, several billion dollars are needed to protect archaeological sites and historic buildings, and repair the extensive list of backlog maintenance projects, including park roads, visitor centers, and sewage treatment plants that are falling apart.
A bipartisan group of more than 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are co-sponsoring the National Park Centennial Act (H.R. 1124 and S.886), legislation that would provide much-needed funding for park maintenance and natural and cultural preservation needs. This new funding would be provided in part through a voluntary check-off on individual federal income tax returns.
Zogby International conducted interviews of 1,000 likely voters chosen at random nationwide. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from 6/20/05 through 6/22/05. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.