National Parks Group Testifies Before Congress to Address $12 Billion Park Service Maintenance Backlog and Park Funding Needs

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 25, 2013
Contact:   Shannon Andrea, Director of Media Relations, National Parks Conservation Association, Phone: 202-454-3371; Cell: 202-365-5912


National Parks Group Testifies Before Congress to Address $12 Billion Park Service Maintenance Backlog and Park Funding Needs

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Considers Additional Funding Sources for the National Park System

Washington, D.C. – The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) will testify today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in support of additional funding options to address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog of the National Park Service.  NPCA says additional investments and support from park partners is necessary to ensure national parks have the funding they need to maintain historic structures, protect wildlife, and inspire visitors for the future.

“Years of inadequate funding for our national parks threaten to undermine our national investment in them and are resulting in a difficult, unsustainable fiscal situation. As the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, we greatly appreciate Chairman Wyden’s and Ranking Member Murkowski’s attention to reinvesting in our national parks, through both traditional and creative new approaches,” says NPCA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Craig Obey. 

The parks group says that in today’s dollars, funding for national park operations is down 13%  from where it was only three years ago, and the construction budget has declined by nearly two-thirds over the last decade.  As a result, places like Yellowstone, Acadia, and Independence Hall have been forced to close visitor centers and campgrounds, shorten park hours and seasons, and eliminate ranger positions.  Park advocates say the annual appropriations process, although an important part of the solution, should be complemented with new sources of revenue to augment the traditional funding parks receive.  Further cuts will only impair the national park experience.

In March, NPCA partnered with the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) and the Bipartisan Policy Center to explore 16 concepts that could provide additional non-appropriated funding to support the Park Service. These concepts seek to offer a multi-faceted approach to addressing the parks’ fiscal woes. To view the supplemental funding sources, visit:  http://parkpartners.org/fundingparks.html.

“In an era when Congress is divided on so many issues, we are hopeful that when it comes to our nation’s treasures, our national leaders can find a way to work together in a bipartisan fashion to support America’s best idea,” says Obey.

National parks represent a third of the top 25 domestic travel locations and generate more than $30 billion in economic activity and more than a quarter million jobs annually. Yet they suffer from an annual operating shortfall exceeding half a billion dollars.  NPCA says that as Congress and the Administration work to address our nation’s important fiscal issues, they should be investing in things that produce jobs, help our economy, and enhance our quality of life. National parks are such investments.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources full committee hearing, Funding the National Park System for the Next Century, will take place in the Senate Dirksen Building at 9:30 a.m. EDT. To view a live webcast, visit:  http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings?ID=d71747a9-cfbf-4933-abb8-c86e5335c220.

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