New Report Says Global Warming An "Unnatural Disaster" for National Parks in Virginia

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 11, 2007
Contact:   Catharine Gilliam, NPCA Virginia Program Manager, Phone: 540.460.5105
Shannon Andrea, NPCA Media Relations Manager, Phone: 202.454.3371


New Report Says Global Warming An "Unnatural Disaster" for National Parks in Virginia

Historic Jamestown Island Could Be Under Water Before Its 500th Anniversary, National Parks Group Challenges Congress and White House to Take Action

Staunton, Va. - The nation's leading park advocacy group, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), today called global warming an "unnatural disaster" for national parks in Virginia and across the country, and called on Congress and the Administration to take action now before the centennial of the National Park System.

"Virginia's cultural and historical treasures, safeguarded by our National Park System, are threatened by global warming," said Catharine Gilliam, NPCA Virginia program manager. "Our cultural heritage is at risk-we must all act to protect these special places now."

NPCA's new report, Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks, warns that if Congress and the Administration do not take action now to slow or halt global climate change, the historic settlement at Jamestown Island, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year, could be under water before its 500th anniversary due to accelerated erosion from strong hurricanes and rapidly rising sea levels induced by global warming. Archaeological sites that were originally inland are now on the shore, and the site of a Confederate Civil War fort is eroding into the James River.

"Global warming is a hazard to our national parks, and will cause irreversible damage if Congress and the Administration don't put the brakes on dirty coal-fired power plants and other polluters now," said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. But instead of curbing the pollutants that contribute to global warming, the Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed a rule change to allow coal-fired power plants to emit more pollution into our national parks and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. NPCA is urging the agency to abandon the proposal.

In Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains, fly fishing guides thrive on the extraordinary conditions in some of the best brook trout streams in the eastern United States.  According to Unnatural Disaster, if water temperatures increase, already stressed native trout could suffer, eliminating 37-90 percent of trout habitat in the region. Climate change could also cause bigger floods, which would be disastrous for native brook trout-flushing them downstream, scouring their eggs and larvae out of gravel nests too soon, leading to large die-offs. 

"Congress and the Administration should take action now to preserve our national heritage," said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. "We have less than 10 years until the 100th birthday of our National Park System-now is the time for action. Taking care of our national parks should be a national priority."

NPCA recommends that state and federal governments enforce the Clean Air Act to prevent power plants from emitting pollutants that make national park air unhealthy for people and wildlife. The oldest and most polluting coal plants should be retired. Greenhouse gases from power plants and other major industries should be capped and reduced.  And state, federal and local governments should turn first to renewable energy and energy efficiency programs to meet growing energy demand. Congress and the Administration should provide adequate funding to enable the National Park Service to help the parks protect natural and cultural resources from the affects of global warming.

NPCA's report is available online at www.npca.org/globalwarming.

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