|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||October 21, 2011|
|Contact:||John Garder, National Parks Conservation Association, Phone: 202-454-3395|
Senate Interior Appropriations Bill Falls Short of Addressing Challenges Facing National Parks
Statement by John Garder, Budget & Appropriations Legislative Representative, National Parks Conservation Association
“The FY12 funding bill released by the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee is generally an improvement from the House proposal, but falls short in meeting the core needs of our national parks. We’re pleased that the bill omits the many policy riders, including one that would reverse Secretary Salazar’s temporary moratorium on new uranium mining clams surrounding Grand Canyon National Park, and others that could pose threats to the air, water, and wildlife in our national parks.
“We’re also pleased to see support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is critical to protecting national parks from development threats within their borders. The $111.5 million request is a vast improvement over the House level, which offered no funding for LWCF despite President Obama’s effort to protect 40 national parks from inappropriate development threats within park boundaries. We look forward to working with bipartisan supporters in both chambers of Congress to ensure adequate funding for this important program.
“The proposed funding for park operations however falls short of protecting park resources and serving visitors. Although the Senate has proposed a more robust allocation than the House, the NPS operating account is cut more than twice as much. We appreciate efforts by both the House and Senate subcommittees to protect park operating accounts, however reducing operations funding $20 million below last year’s level should be reconsidered. Maintaining this account is critical to meeting fixed operating costs so that seasonal and other ranger levels can be maintained. We strongly encourage the House and Senate to work together to come as close as possible to meeting fixed costs. In addition, our national parks cannot sustain continual reductions to the construction budget, as contemplated here by a 40 percent cut in line-item projects, when NPS already estimates they receive $325 million less every year than needed to keep the maintenance backlog from growing.
“Our national parks return $4 to the economy for every dollar invested and ensure more than $13 billion in private-sector spending and support nearly 270,000 jobs. In the rush to reduce the federal deficit, we must not impair the National Park Service’s ability to preserve our national identity or undermine the very places that contribute to local economies, foster jobs, and protect America’s heritage for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”