Billions of reasons to protect them
See our ongoing coverage of the effects the broken federal budget process is having on national parks, including our latest video with perspectives from park rangers, stats on the economic impacts to local communities, our latest blog stories, and other resources.
The National Park Service (NPS) has been crippled by compounded budget cuts over recent months and years. The budget to operate our national parks, in today's dollars, is already 13 percent less than it was three years ago, a loss of $315 million. In the busy summer tourist season, national parks operated with approximately 1,900 less staff due to the more than $180 million cut in 2013.
This cut forced our national park superintendents to delay the opening of parks or park roads; close visitor centers, picnic areas, and campgrounds; decrease the number of rangers to protect and maintain parks; and limit the number of educational programs. NPCA’s infographic and fact sheet highlight the impact of the recent sequester — across-the-board budget cuts — to parks across the country.
These budget cuts cannot continue! There are BILLIONS of reasons to protect national parks, including the more than $30 billion in economic activity each year our parks return to the economy. Among the billions of other reasons:
Experience. Memories. History. For many, visits to national park units are the experience of a lifetime. The National Park Service oversees some of the most hallowed and historically important areas in the United States, including Civil War battlefields, the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, Revolutionary War sites, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, and hundreds more.
National, Bipartisan Support. According to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased. The recent budget cuts impacting parks is why nearly 300 businesses wrote Congress and the President in early 2013 expressing their concern. It is also why, in the summer of 2013, both the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed resolutions in support of park funding.
Jobs. Annually, the National Park Service employs over 20,000 people and oversees 221,000 volunteers who contribute about 6.4 million hours. However, this is just a fraction of the jobs that national parks support. In 2011, national parks generated 252,000 private-sector jobs nationwide. NPCA’s 2011 Made in America Report outlines these statistics and more.
Economic Generator. Annually, our national parks attract nearly 300 million visitors and support more than $30 billion in private-sector spending, generating $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar invested. For more information on the economic benefits to local communities, see the report on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, by Michigan State University.
Education. In 2012, over 800,000 five to 13 year olds became Junior Rangers, joining over 220,000 WebRangers in promising to protect parks, learn about parks, and share their own ranger story with friends and family. Additionally, thousands of kids have earned a Junior Ranger badge for the Let’s Move Outside campaign, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative.
Tourism. Not only have nine out of ten Americans visited a national park, but one in five international visitors visits a park service unit during their stay in the United States. Forbes Magazine named four National Park Service units on their list of the top 10 U.S. tourist destinations: Golden Gate National Recreation Area (California), the National Mall and Memorial Parks (Washington, D.C.), Faneuil Hall (Massachusetts), and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee).
There are so many more reasons to invest in our national treasures. Share your reason and read other reasons at myparkstory.org.