National Cemeteries Suffer Inadequate Funding, Other Threats, Says National Parks Conservation Association

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 7, 2007
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


National Cemeteries Suffer Inadequate Funding, Other Threats, Says National Parks Conservation Association

WASHINGTON, D.C. - National cemeteries within the National Park System are suffering from insufficient funding and other threats, the National Parks Conservation Association said today. Congress is holding a hearing this week about the state of the nation’s cemeteries.

"The National Park Service has a unique ability to foster understanding of these sites, and ensure that their significance is preserved for generations of Americans," said National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan. "It is up to Congress and the Administration to see that the Park Service has the resources needed to do the job."

Congress is holding a hearing on May 8 in the House Committee on Veteran Affairs on the state of the nation’s cemeteries; the National Park System contains 14 national cemeteries. National Parks Conservation Association research shows that the national parks suffer from a chronic $800-million annual funding shortfall, which affects the ability of the National Park Service to protect national cemeteries and other cultural and historic sites.

Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, which includes Gettysburg National Cemetery, has a 41% budget shortfall. NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks assessment of Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia revealed that additional funding is needed to maintain the grounds of the national cemetery. Established as a national cemetery by the Secretary of War in 1879, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana is threatened by adjacent development, and requires additional funding to protect artifacts from the Battle of Little Bighorn.

"The opportunity to visit a national cemetery and reflect upon the stories told therein provide a critical part of a visitor’s experience to national parks like Gettysburg and Andersonville," Kiernan added.

NPCA is calling on Congress to support the Administration’s proposed $200-million operating increase for national parks in the 2008 budget, which would help to address the needs of national cemeteries and other sites within the park system.

For instance, the Administration’s 2008 budget requests an additional $79,000 for Andersonville National Historic Site--a 6% increase over the park’s fiscal year 2006 operating budget, and an additional $648,000 for Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee, which also protects a national cemetery--a 37% increase over the park’s fiscal year 2006 operating budget. Maryland’s Antietam National Battlefield and Civil War cemetery is slated to receive an increase of $486,000--a 16% increase over its fiscal year 2006 operating budget.

The 14 national cemeteries in the park system are: Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville, Ga.; Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tenn.; Antietam National Cemetery, Sharpsburg, Md.; Battleground National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.; Chalmette National Cemetery, part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Chalmette, La.; Custer National Cemetery, part of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Crow Agency, Mont.; Fort Donelson National Cemetery, Dover, Tenn.; Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Va.; Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pa.; Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Petersburg , Va.; Shiloh National Cemetery, Shiloh, Tenn.; Stones River National Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Vicksburg National Cemetery, Vicksburg, Miss.; and Yorktown National Cemetery, part of Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Va.

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