National Parks Conservation Association's New Analysis Says National Parks Now Short More than $800 Million

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   September 21, 2006
Contact:  

 Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332



National Parks Conservation Association's New Analysis Says National Parks Now Short More than $800 Million

Parks' Annual Shortfall Has Grown from $600 Million to $800 Million in Five Years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New analysis released today by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) reveals that the annual shortfall of federal funding for America’s national parks has grown from $600 million to more than $800 million over the last five years—a situation that directly affects the experiences of park visitors and the preservation of the nation’s treasures.

 

“The bad news is that park budgets are falling further behind,” said NPCA Senior Vice President for Programs Ron Tipton. “The good news is that Congress and the Administration can do something about it.”

 

To update the parks’ $600-million operational shortfall estimate that NPCA identified in 2001, NPCA experts compared the relatively small operating increases Congress has provided over the last few years against fixed costs such as annual Cost of Living Adjustments for park staff and other personnel costs. NPCA also reviewed and incorporated into its analysis several cost savings activities that park managers have conducted over the past five years, including increased volunteerism and productivity gains, and direct-to-park donations, and reviewed parks’ annual statements of additional required operational funding. As per this updated analysis, NPCA’s estimate of the size of the funding shortfall that cripples all 390 national park sites will be approximately $814 million on September 30, 2006—the last day of the Federal Government’s fiscal year. 

 

In national parks from Yosemite to Apostle Islands to Gettysburg, insufficient annual funding is causing park managers to cut public education programs, science, and research; reduce visitor center hours; postpone road, trail, and historic building maintenance; halt cataloging and preservation of historic and cultural artifacts; limit work to combat invasive species and poachers; and even clean park restrooms less frequently.

 

These and other critical funding needs of the national parks are profiled in a photo spread in the October issue of National Geographic magazine, which is on newsstands this week.

 

“NPCA’s analysis gives us an accurate picture of what is needed today to restore our national parks to good health,” Tipton added. “As a first step, Congress and the Administration can demonstrate their leadership by providing significant new funds for America’s national parks in the fiscal year 2008 budget.”

 

In August, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced a 10-year-long National Parks Centennial Challenge, which has the potential to provide much-needed new help for parks. Responding to this opportunity, and recognizing the ongoing funding needs of the parks, Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) and Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) are now circulating on the Hill letters to the Administration that request significant new funding for national parks in the fiscal year 2008 budget.

 

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