President's Budget Proposes Needed Investment in National Parks, Preparing Them for Historic Centennial in 2016

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   March 4, 2014
Contact:   Alison Zemanski Heis, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3332; C: 202.384.8762


President's Budget Proposes Needed Investment in National Parks, Preparing Them for Historic Centennial in 2016

Statement by NPCA Chief Operating Officer Theresa Pierno

Background: Today, President Obama released his 2015 budget proposal that proposes a multi-year Centennial Initiative for national parks, beginning with $664 million in Fiscal Year 2015. Yesterday, the National Park Service released their annual economic report discussing visitation and visitor spending impacts to local communities and a second report analyzing the effects that the October 2013 government shutdown had on our 401 national parks, park visitors, and local businesses.

“The release of President Obama’s 2015 budget today outlines a timely opportunity to invest in our national parks before their historic centennial celebration in 2016, preparing them for the next hundred years of service and beyond. We are thrilled by the president’s robust budget proposal which, if funded, will produce jobs, enhance the experience of visitors and begin addressing many infrastructure needs in our parks.

“From Yellowstone to Gettysburg, the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon – the president’s proposed investment in national parks would put more national park rangers to work to address overdue maintenance needs, enhance the visitor experience, and better connect young people with their natural and cultural heritage, while supporting local economies across the country. Further, the president’s Centennial Initiative offers a bold program to create needed construction jobs while restoring America’s treasures. We are also pleased to see that the president’s budget proposes dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to combat inappropriate development threatening our national parks.

“As yesterday’s release of the Park Service’s annual economic impact report showed, investing in national parks pays dividends, with every dollar invested in the National Park System generating roughly $10 in economic benefits. National parks are economic engines that support nearly a quarter million jobs annually and nearly $27 billion in economic activity. And the average American household pays $2.56 in taxes each year for the Park Services to operate, a little more than a cup of coffee.

“Investing in our national parks is needed now more than ever after the 16-day government shutdown that cost local communities more than $400 million and turned away nearly eight million visitors; a sequester that led to closed park roads, visitor centers, threatening park resources and local businesses; and years of declining funds that have led to fewer rangers to preserve and protect these treasured places. Today’s proposed investment provides an opportunity to put that experience behind us and invest in some of the most significant, breathtaking and awe-inspiring places in the world. The public supports national park funding: according to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — agree that funding for our national parks should be maintained or increased.

“With the National Park Service Centennial fast approaching in 2016, we call on Congress to now invest in park rangers, American jobs, gateway economies, and the restoration of our national parks for their next century of service and beyond.” (#KeepParksFunded)

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NPCA is part of National Parks Second Century Action Coalition, which is dedicated to promoting the protection, restoration, and operation of the National Park System to benefit park visitors for the next hundred years and beyond. To learn more or to speak to one of our national coalition members please see below or visit: www.npca.org/secondcenturyaction.

“There is broad, diverse support for this kind of centennial investment in our national parks, the jobs they produce and the heritage they protect, and we are pleased the administration has stepped up to prioritize it,” said Craig Obey, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We hope that Congress will seize this moment and support this much-needed investment.”

“From Ellis Island and Chaco Cultural National Historical Park to the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument and so many other places, national parks tell the stories of all Americans,” said Tom Cassidy, Vice-President of Government Relations for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “Investments in national parks are essential to protect our historic and cultural resources, especially as we approach the Centennial anniversary.”

“Recognizing the national parks as irreplaceable treasures as well as critical habitats for protecting native plant communities and whole ecosystems, The Garden Club of America calls on President Obama to offer a visionary plan that includes a commitment in funding to make conservation the system’s top priority, and to invest in our national parks by providing a robust budget proposal that will leave a lasting legacy for the next hundred years and beyond,” said Lindsay Marshall, Chairman, National Affairs and Legislation Committee, The Garden Club of America.

“America’s national parks are home to some of the most beautiful, iconic, and natural playgrounds in the world, helping generate $646 billion in consumer spending and supporting more than six million jobs annually,” said Kirk Bailey, Vice President of Government Affairs for Outdoor Industry Association. “With the national parks’ 100th anniversary in 2016, a federal investment in their future will provide greater access and recreational opportunities -- whether you climb, hike, paddle, love history, or simply enjoy the amazing views.”

"Appropriate higher levels of funding to address the infrastructure backlog at our national parks and other public lands is the best way to have a meaningful celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, said Stephen B. Richer, Public Affairs Advocate for the National Tour Association. “The American public and our international guests want to see these gems in excellent condition with all facilities in good repair.”

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