The National Park Service, which has long struggled with underfunding, has been crippled by compounded budget cuts over recent years. This pattern threatens the long-term protection of our national treasures and the countless local economies that depend on American and international visitors having a safe and inspiring experience. The current Fiscal Year 2015 funding level for national parks is vastly insufficient to bring parks back to where they were, and where they need to be—especially in advance of the 2016 Centennial. There has been more than a 7%, or $173 million reduction in the account to operate national parks and more than a 12%, or $364 million reduction in the total budget for the National Park Service over the last five years in today’s dollars. Also, over the last decade, there has been a 62% or $227 million decline in today’s dollars in the park service construction account, directly contributing to the $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog.
The budget to operate national parks has been cut nearly eight percent, or nearly $190 million in today’s dollars, compared to just four years ago; national parks also suffer from an annual operations shortfall of more than a half-billion dollars. Recent cuts have forced 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 fact sheet highlights the impact of these damaging cuts to parks across the country.
The president’s proposed Centennial Initiative starts our national parks on the road to recovery, but it needs your help to become a reality. Take action to support increased park funding so that rangers can return to parks to address overdue maintenance needs, protect America’s treasured places, and ensure a memorable experience for all visitors.