Congress Visits Hawaii to Examine National Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   December 1, 2005
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


Congress Visits Hawaii to Examine National Parks

Honolulu, HI - At a congressional hearing today about the funding needs of the national parks, the nation’s leading park advocacy group the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) testified about the critical funding needs of the seven national parks in Hawaii, highlighting the funds needed to combat invasive species and address a growing backlog of maintenance needs.

“The impact of chronic under funding on Hawaii’s national parks ranges from subtle to tragic,” said NPCA Vice President for Government Affairs Craig Obey in his written testimony.

According to NPCA’s 2005 report, Faded Glory: Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Park Heritage, nearly 3 million acres of national parkland are infected with invasive, non-native species. In Hawaii, the well-known, expensive problem is particularly troublesome. Obey testified today that, “the threat from invasive species is so severe that scientists are greatly concerned that Hawaii’s national parks may be losing the race to protect and preserve their natural resources.”

NPCA also testified today about the extraordinary backlog of maintenance needs in the national parks, which the Congressional Research Service has estimated to range between $4.5 and $9.7 billion. A graphic example of park maintenance needs is the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, where the foundation of the park visitor center is cracking and sinking into the ground.

The bipartisan National Park Centennial Act seeks to increase funding for the maintenance and natural and cultural preservation needs of the parks through 2016—the 100th anniversary of the park system’s creation. The legislation provides new funding for the parks in part from a voluntary check-off on federal income tax returns; Congress agrees to make up any difference needed to ensure that the job gets done. In a nationwide poll, three in five likely voters said they would donate to the parks via a voluntary check-off.

“NPCA recently compiled a list of the Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Park Heritage,” Obey said. “But we really need only one: America’s national parks, including the crown jewels of the Hawaiian Islands, are the legacy we leave to our children and to future generations.”

Today’s hearing, held in Honolulu and hosted by Government Reform, Criminal Justice Subcommittee Chairman Mark Souder (R-IN), was the seventh in a series of congressional field hearings held over two years to examine the funding needs of America’s national parks. The hearings are the first focused effort by Congress in decades to examine park funding issues in-depth, and to identify solutions to meet the challenges.

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