|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||July 23, 2013|
|Contact:||Alison Zemanski Heis, Media Relations Manager National Parks Conservation Association
Craig Obey, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs National Parks Conservation Association Phone: 202.454.3392 Cell: 202. 669.9689
National Parks Group Says House Funding Bill Continues Unsustainable Course for Parks
National parks again threatened by damaging funding cuts despite congressional support for funding to operate parks
Washington, D.C.-- The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) says the House funding bill for Fiscal Year 2014 that was voted favorably out of subcommittee today continues a trend of eroding the Park Service budget, as well as damaging policy amendments that threaten the health of some national parks.
“This bill demonstrates a clear recognition that national park operations have been cut too much but without the means to provide the National Park Service with the resources it needs to truly protect our parks. It retains damaging sequester funding levels, will continue to limit the ability of the National Park Service to keep visitor facilities open, and will continue to grow the backlog,” said Craig Obey, NPCA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “As long as the Interior appropriations subcommittee continues to receive funding allocations with their roots in fantasy rather than reality, our national parks, historic places and cultural treasures will be at ever-increasing risk. The American people and local businesses that expect and depend upon the parks and park facilities to be open and well-run will get parks that are able to do less, because they have less to work with.”
In the aftermath of the sequester, the House Interior Appropriations proposal for FY 2014 cuts funding for the National Park Service by more than $100 million below this year’s funding level, compounding the cuts that have occurred during the last three years. Importantly, it provides a small $24 million increase over current levels to operate national parks. However, the amount is still more than $115 below the most recent funding level for park operations prior to the sequester. When accounting for uncontrollable cost increases and the impact of the cuts over the last three years, the amount is insufficient to restore national parks to a reasonable funding level.
“The subcommittee leadership deserves credit for highlighting the critical need for operations funds. But the facts are inescapable that the funding level provided is barely sufficient to maintain the parks in their present, budget-depleted state,” added Obey. “At these funding levels, without a larger agreement to address the core drivers of our federal budget mess, our national parks and other public lands are likely to be in even worse shape next year.”
The bill also eliminates funding for land acquisition, critical to preventing incompatible development within national parks, and provides another cut to the park construction budget. Though the Park Service deferred maintenance backlog has grown to more than $11 billion, the bill cuts the Park Service construction budget by nearly $18 million, or 14% below last year.
“The bill completely eliminates funds to prevent incompatible development within our national parks and continues unsustainable cuts to park construction, despite its value as a jobs producer and the importance of preventing irreparable deterioration to our national treasures,” said Obey. “This kind of budgeting is simply unsustainable.”
The measure also includes policy provisions that threaten to undermine the protection of the parks’ air and water resources. One policy provision NPCA supports is a proposed one-year extension of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, to ensure that the parks do not lose access to the recreation and entrance fees they collect.
For more information on NPCA’s work on national park funding, see www.npca.org/billions.