Americans Prioritize National Parks, but Administration's Budget Ignores Park Needs, Proposes $100-Million Cut

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   February 6, 2006
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


Americans Prioritize National Parks, but Administration's Budget Ignores Park Needs, Proposes $100-Million Cut

Washington, D.C. - Despite continued budget pressures in an unstable world, this budget does not reflect the priority that Americans place on our National Park System. It does not begin to meet the needs of our national parks. In fact, this $100-million budget cut likely means that Americans will pay higher entrance fees this summer for fewer services in our parks.

According to a nationwide Harris Poll announced a few weeks ago, national parks top the list of federal government services supported by the American people. More Americans voice support for national parks (85%) than defense (71%), Social Security (76%), and Medicare (76%), and federal aid to public schools (69%). This tremendous public support however, is not reflected in the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2007, which provides only a small increase for park operations and cuts overall funding for national parks by $100.4 million compared to current levels.

Already, national parks operate on average with only two-thirds of the needed funds—a system-wide shortfall in excess of $600 million annually. This budget further limits the ability of parks to educate and inspire increasing numbers of park visitors and school groups, repair hurricane damage, and meet homeland security demands, including protecting parklands along U.S. borders. Worse yet, almost all parks won’t even have enough money to cover the probable cost of congressionally mandated salary increases for staff. National parks nationwide will likely cut services, reduce protections for natural and cultural resources, and raise fees to compensate. At this rate, there may be far fewer rangers in our parks when the system turns 100 years old in ten years.

Last year, the overall parks budget was reduced by approximately $76 million, after being subject to multiple across-the-board cuts.

It is up to Congress to meet the needs of the national parks, and fund the protection of the places most valued by Americans. We are looking to Congress to provide at least an additional $150 million for park operations for fiscal year 2007, and critically needed funding for homeland security, land acquisition, and hurricane repairs.

The bipartisan National Park Centennial Act (H.R. 1124 and S. 886) would also provide important new funds to address the parks’ maintenance and natural and cultural preservation needs.

Our national heritage depends on it.

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