|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||June 22, 2007|
|Contact:||Andrea Keller Helsel, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202-454-3332|
Senate Appropriations Committee Provides New Funds for National Parks
WASHINGTON, D.C. –The National Parks Conservation Association today said that the proposed budget for national parks from the U.S. Senate Appropriations committee makes “needed strides” toward rectifying the funding shortfalls that imperil America’s national park heritage.
“The full committee has endorsed Sen. Feinstein’s bill, which shows great leadership for our national parks,” said National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan. “This record funding puts rangers back in our parks and protects land threatened by development. Needed strides have been taken today toward restoring our national parks before their centennial—now less than 10 years away.”
The Senate Appropriations committee yesterday approved the subcommittee’s fiscal year 2008 bill, which provides $2.46 billion for the National Park Service, an increase of $172 million above the parks’ fiscal year 2007 budget. The committee exceeded the Administration’s request, putting 3,000 seasonal rangers back in the parks by providing a much-needed operating increase of approximately $200 million.
“While we are disappointed that the committee was not able to include funding at this point to initiate the proposed public-private philanthropic partnership under the Centennial Challenge, we strongly encourage the Senate to seize the opportunity to initiate this program as the legislative process moves forward,” Kiernan added. “Taking care of our national parks should be a national priority.”
National Parks Conservation Association estimates that national parks now suffer from a chronic, $800-million annual operating shortfall. The House also provided an increase of approximately $200 million for national park operations, and $50 million for the Centennial Challenge public-private matching grant program; the full House is expected to vote on the bill next week.
The bill also includes language that ensure the ability of Channel Islands National Park to phase out hunting on Santa Rosa Island and remove the remaining deer and elk by the end of 2011, in accordance with a settlement agreement that National Parks Conservation Association was party to.
National Parks Conservation Association also expresses regret at the committee feeling compelled to include the provision about snowmobiles in Yellowstone, and hope that it will be reconsidered.
Earlier this year, 87 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 40 U.S. Senators signed bipartisan letters to their appropriations committees seeking additional funding for national parks in the fiscal year 2008 budget.
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