Update: December 18, 2007
More than 43,000 supporters signed our petition asking legislators to make national parks a national priority. Park enthusiasts like you helped us to encourage Congress and the Administration to support a much-needed funding increase for the national parks. The omnibus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president last month contained a $122-million operating increase for parks! This record funding increase will help to put rangers back into many our national parks.
Looking forward, 2008 promises to be another important year as we work to fix our parks before the park system's centennial. We hope you will join us as we continue to encourage Congress and the Administration to reinvest in the national parks, work to protect parks from the effects of climate change and pollution, and encourage both our elected officials and candidates running for office to make national parks a national priority.
Chronic funding shortfalls are the most pervasive threat to the national parks. On average, national parks operate with only two-thirds of the money needed to cover annual operating expenses. Budget shortfalls of more than $800 million annually have led to a shortage of rangers, neglected trails, and dirty and deteriorating visitor facilities. The backlog of maintenance and preservation needs exceeds several billion dollars.
As a result of funding and staffing shortfalls, many park managers have been forced to reduce the number of public education programs offered, shorten visitor center hours or shutter visitor centers altogether, and deny requests from school groups for ranger-led tours. In parks across the country, interpretive displays and signage are outdated, brochures are in short supply, and interpretive rangers are an endangered species. Under these constraints, park managers struggle to engage and inspire visitors, and protect natural and cultural resources. Many parks are doing "less with less" and management by crisis.
The Make National Parks a National Priority Petition called on Congress to increase national parks funding by at least $200 million for FY2008, and provide funding for the National Park Centennial Challenge.
For more information see the following reports:
5 Ways America Can Fix Our National Parks
America's national parks are in crisis-- underfunding, traffic congestion, and pollution are all taking their toll. This report details NPCA's plan for how to fix the parks before their 100th birthday.
U.S. National Park System: An Economic Asset at Risk
According to a new economic analysis released by the National Parks Conservation Association, America's National Park System generates at least four dollars for state and local economies in return for every one tax dollar that the Federal Government invests in the parks' budgets.
FADED GLORY: Top Ten Reasons to Reinvest in Our National Park Heritage
The Park Service's budget is insufficient to address myriad needs including poaching and drug smuggling, invasive plants and animals, shoddy roads and trails, and cutbacks in educational programs for school groups and park visitors.
Center for the State of the Parks Reports
The Center for State of the Parks assesses the health of our national parks by objectively examining the resource conditions and threats in selected park units.