Press Release May 23, 2017

President’s Budget Threat to National Parks

If enacted, would be biggest cut to National Park Service since World War II.

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s FY2018 budget proposes serious cuts to the National Park Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that, if enacted, would jeopardize the protection, maintenance and operation of national parks across the country.

The budget calls for a 13 percent cut to the Park Service that would be the largest cut to the agency since World War II, if enacted. The budget purports to significantly increase maintenance, but funding for deferred maintenance is actually decreased in the administration’s proposal. The budget includes reductions in support for historic preservation and interpretation, community-based recreation and other park programs. It undermines the National Heritage Area program and nearly zeroes out land acquisition funds critical to protecting park lands from commercial or residential development.

The proposed budget also calls for a 31 percent cut to the EPA, the agency responsible for implementing and enforcing laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act so park visitors can breathe healthy air, swim in clean water and enjoy scenic vistas unmarred by haze pollution. It includes eliminating critical ecosystem restoration programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Program and the South Florida Program.

The budget proposal cuts come as the last congressional budget deal expires, and the threat of the damaging “sequester cuts” returns for future spending bills.

Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association:

“This budget undermines our national parks to an alarming degree. Agencies like the National Park Service and EPA are already operating on shoestring budgets, and this budget, if enacted, will only make a bad situation worse. It shortchanges the need for better maintenance and repair of parks, and cuts more than a thousand rangers out of our parks.

“If enacted, this budget would represent the largest cut to the National Park Service since World War II. Parks are having record visitation; visitors want to see rangers at the entrance of Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. This is not the legacy we should leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

“From the start, this administration acknowledged the value of our nation’s parks—from the President donating his first paycheck to repair national park battlefields, to our new Secretary of the Interior’s interest in decreasing the National Park Service backlog. Unfortunately, this budget doesn’t value our parks, and instead presents cuts that would be deeply damaging to them.

“Our children and our grandchildren deserve to experience national parks the way we all have. It is up to Congress to stand up for them. It’s critical that they not only reject this budget, but also pass another budget deal to avoid additional damage to national parks.”

Specific park and park-related budget items include:

  • An 8 percent cut to the operation of national parks, severely limiting opportunities to hire seasonal rangers and keep other staff on the ground, and generally provide for the functional operation of parks;
  • More than $30 million in cuts to deferred maintenance as new Park Service figures show a $11.33 billion deferred maintenance backlog in parks;
  • A cut of 1,242 in staff, or 6 percent, compared to last year, which would amount to a cut of nearly 4,000 staff, or 18 percent, compared to staffing in FY10 if enacted;
  • Cuts base operating funding for park units by $132 million;
  • A 37 percent cut to the Historic Preservation Fund;
  • Nearly zeroing out land acquisition funding;
  • Elimination of the National Heritage Area program;
  • Elimination of all EPA Geographic Programs, which include the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Chesapeake Bay Program and the South Florida Program; and
  • A 45 percent cut to EPA grants to states, which will severally limit states’ abilities to comply with water and air pollution standards and implement programs like the Regional Haze Rule, which is vital to cleaning up the air in our national parks.

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About National Parks Conservation Association

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.