Reinvesting in America’s Heritage
Investing in America’s Heritage
NPCA is working hard to ensure our national parks can reach their full potential as extraordinary places that preserve our American history, culture, and natural wonders. In order to reach this potential, our national parks need the necessary tools and support.
Protecting the Past Benefits the Present
Investing in our national parks can put Americans to work in difficult economic times, and restore and enhance park resources for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
In 2007, NPCA brought to the attention of the Bush administration and members of Congress that our national parks were suffering from an annual operating shortfall of more than $800 million. That shortfall meant that parks were suffering from disrepair and park rangers were scarce. There was bipartisan agreement that our national parks were in trouble and a multi-year effort began to restore funding for park operations, the account that funds rangers and other staff critical to protecting and maintaining resources and serving visitors. Over the next three years, additional investments were made so that the operations shortfall was reduced and is now a little more than $600 million. Those investments yielded important results: among other benefits, there were more seasonal rangers to guide visitors, maintain park facilities and protect resources.
When the campaign to increase funding began, the goal was to ensure our national parks could be fully funded by the time of the Centennial of the National Park Service in 2016. We realize that with our country facing some tough economic times, substantial increases in national park funding, while still necessary, are not realistic. . But we cannot afford to return to the days when our national parks were suffering from disrepair and visitors weren’t seeing rangers once they got past the entrance gate.
National Parks are Economic Engines
A study recently commissioned by NPCA found that every federal dollar invested in our national parks generates at least four dollars in benefits to state and local economies.
National parks are supporting more than $13 billion in private-sector economic activity, more than 270,000 jobs, and countless park gateway businesses and communities. They are welcoming more than 280 million annual visitors who are investing their money in local economies while at the same time learning about our American history and the treasures that make this country great. Quite simply, we are getting a great deal from our national parks, and yet they cost us very little – 1/13th of one percent of the entire federal budget.
Our national parks are providing affordable vacations for American families and inviting international visitation; of the top 25 domestic travel destinations, our national parks comprise nearly a third of them. They are fostering private-sector jobs and protecting our national treasures for our children and grandchildren. And though they are already underfunded, their budget was cut for the first time in a decade last year, by more than $140 million. In real dollars, the budget for our national parks is $385 million lower than it was in Fiscal Year 2002.
As we look to address our deficit, it should be clear that our national parks give us a lot for a little and are already struggling with insufficient funds to adequately protect our heritage and serve visitors. To cut them further would be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Looking to the Future
Our national parks need our help. With the National Park System’s centennial approaching in 2016, our parks should be living up to their potential, not threatened with the potential of disrepair, looting, development and the other threats that can accompany underfunding. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to see that our national parks are fully ready for their second century of service to the American people.
Join our list of supporters so that we can call on you to contact decision-makers at critical moments in the legislative process. Call your senators and representative. Tell them you don’t want to see national parks funding cut further. Tell them why you love national parks, and that you want to ensure we have sufficient rangers to protect our national treasures and to guide the millions of visitors who are helping create jobs in park gateway communities. You can look up your elected officials below:
With your help, we can ensure that in 2016, our national parks are in a condition to be proud of as we look towards a second century of protecting our heritage.
Last Updated: September 19, 2011