Insufficient Funding Threatens Cabrillo National Monument

Date:   April 8, 2008
Contact:   Lindsay Bartsh, Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, 415-989-9921 x22

Insufficient Funding Threatens Cabrillo National Monument

New Report Warns That Community Festivals, Restoration Efforts and Historical Exhibits Are at Risk

San Diego, Calif.–Between 1855 and 1891, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse was a beacon to sailing vessels coming in and out of the San Diego harbor. Today, as part of Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego's National Park, it is a beacon to the community: a focal point for the celebration of culture, the appreciation of history, and the preservation of the region's precious coastal ecosystems.

Much of that role is in jeopardy today, according to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). Insufficient funding for the national monument has threatened important community festivals, halted the rehabilitation of historic structures, and slowed progress in restoring the natural environment of the Point Loma Peninsula, according to NPCA's Center for the State of the Parks report released today.

According to the National Park Service's own estimates, Cabrillo National Monument receives less than one-fourth of the federal funding needed to properly manage, repair and preserve its historical structures, museum collections, and natural resources.  Conditions of both the natural and cultural resources of the park rated “fair” in the NPCA study.

“Our national parks serve as archives of our culture and history, and living testaments to who we were and how we got to where we are today,” said Ron Sundergill, NPCA Pacific Regional Director. “Cabrillo National Monument links San Diego's past with its present and its future. But those cultural and natural threads are threatened by a severe lack of funding for the monument.”

According to the report, challenges at Cabrillo National Monument include:

Festivals Threatened: Cabrillo National Monument is threatened with the possibility of having to cancel two of its popular annual events: the Cabrillo Festival, and the Whale Watch Weekend and Intertidal Life Festival. Due to a lack of funding, the park has cut back on special events and outreach.  The 45-year-old Cabrillo Festival is now supported by outside community groups and the U.S. Navy, while the 21-year-old Whale Watch Weekend and Intertidal Life Festival is supported by the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, the monument's non-profit cooperating association partner. Funding for these events is evaluated on a year-by-year basis, which means that these events could be canceled at any time.

Historic structures at risk: Point Loma provided vital coastal and harbor defense during the First and Second World Wars. Although the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and grounds have recently been restored and new exhibits created for the Assistant Keeper's Quarters interpretive shelter, plans to refurbish and install historic furnishings and exhibits at other military structures such as fire control stations, searchlight shelters and a WWII generator station have been stalled.  Research and archival assessments have also been delayed and studies are needed to better guide management of these structures. NPCA recommends rehabilitating these historic structures as cultural museums to help the public connect with the history behind the structures, the people who staffed them and the roles those people played in defending San Diego during World War II.

Environmental work stalled: To date, restoration efforts have been effective at removing non-native plant life and bringing native species back to the park. But funding shortfalls have slowed this removal and halted scientific studies needed to determine the cause of disappearing species and have limited the Park Service’s ability to measure the impacts of local air and water pollution on its delicate ecosystem.“

Cabrillo National Monument provides a natural coastal oasis within San Diego, the nation’s seventh-largest metropolitan area, and a gateway to the rest of the National Park System,” continued Sundergill. “We encourage Congress and the Administration to increase funding for the Park Service so that the tide pools, threatened coastal Mediterranean habitat, historic buildings, and the park’s breathtaking views of the ocean are protected for future generations.”

NPCA launched the landmark Center for State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the health of national parks across the country.  To view a copy of the full report, please click here.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit NPCA has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 340,000 members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.



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