|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||June 24, 2008|
|Contact:||Andrea Keller Helsel, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3332|
New Report Gives First-Ever Review of National Park Resource Conditions
Report Rates National Park Resources in "Fair" Shape as Americans Head to Parks for Holiday Weekend
Washington, D.C.— As millions of Americans head to our country’s national parks for the upcoming July 4 weekend, a new report from the nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), offers the first-ever, science-based evaluation of the condition of the natural and cultural resources in the National Park System, including the wildlife, scenic vistas, historic buildings, and artifacts that visitors are hoping to see.
According to NPCA’s report, The State of Our National Parks: A Resources Index, national parks earned lower than acceptable scores, indicating serious, yet surmountable challenges. Based on this assessment by its Center for State of the Parks, NPCA is calling for action from the next Administration and Congress.
"While this is the partisan political season, looking out for the parks isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a partisan issue," said NPCA Senior Vice President Ron Tipton. "We can all agree our national treasures need to be protected so our children and grandchildren can be inspired as we were when first visiting the Great Smoky Mountains or the home of Frederick Douglass."
Since 2000, NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks has completed assessments of nearly 60 national parks. The findings from these individual assessments comprise the National Parks Resources Index—a system-wide review of the condition of resources in the parks and a new tool for tracking changes in these national parks over time.
In this first iteration of the Index, the condition of the natural resources in these national park sites scored 70 on a scale of 0 to 100; the cultural resources scored only 61.
NPCA’s report points to critical unfulfilled funding needs at popular parks like Great Smoky Mountains, Zion, Joshua Tree, and other parks throughout the country as contributing to the low scores. Additionally, when assessing the health of ecosystems in 43 parks, NPCA found that an alarming 97 percent of these parks were experiencing some degree of ecosystem fragmentation, loss, or degradation—affecting wildlife and native plants across the park system. NPCA also warns that the effects of global warming and air pollution are assaulting national parks nationwide.
"It is imperative that the new president and the next Congress use their respective powers to ensure the park system is properly funded and fully protected in time for its 100th birthday—less than eight years away," Tipton added.