Park repairs come at expense of cuts to budget and environmental protections.
WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration is calling for cuts to the National Park Service’s budget and eliminating critical environmental protections for parks in an effort to address the agency’s $11.6 billion repair backlog, according to the president’s proposed FY2019 budget and legislative outline for infrastructure.
The proposal includes a 7 percent cut to the overall National Park Service budget, with specific cuts to cultural programs, land acquisition and the Centennial Challenge, a grants program that leverages philanthropic dollars. It also includes flat funding for park operations.
While the administration’s broader infrastructure proposal calls for a new investment in park repairs –eroding trails, crumbling roads and aging historic structures – it comes at the expense of significant rollbacks of environmental protections like the National Environmental Policy Act. The budget allocates up to $18 billion to fund public lands infrastructure through increased federal energy leasing and development activity revenue.
The administration’s budget also calls for $1.6 billion towards building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which would threaten to divide communities, block wildlife migration and destroy delicate park ecosystems.
Further, it proposes a sweeping change to the Department of Interior’s organizational structure, a move that could take away park resources and hamper Park Service staff’s ability to manage and protect our nation’s parks.
The following is a statement by John Garder, Senior Director of Budget and Appropriations, National Parks Conservation Association:
“The president’s budget proposal once again demonstrates that the administration is actively working to undermine our national parks and the environment on which they depend. National parks draw millions of visitors every year, and need more resources, not less. Choking off funding for staff who protect our national parks puts our country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage at risk.
"The Park Service’s $11.6 billion repair backlog is a critical problem that demands attention, but the administration’s proposal comes at too great a cost by undermining vital environmental laws and other public lands. Caring for our parks means not only fixing their roads and buildings, but also protecting their air, water, wildlife and surrounding landscapes. And yet, the administration intends to dismantle bedrock conservation laws and take away the public’s voice in these decisions.
“Repairing our national parks is long overdue but should not rely on revenue from increased energy development, which only further threatens the well-being of parks, clear air and water and public health.
"The National Park Service needs and deserves smart and substantive investment to protect and repair our parks and to allow visitors to enjoy exploring these amazing places of America’s heritage. Congress should reject this budget and infrastructure proposal and instead work toward a better, bipartisan future for our parks and their visitors.”
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 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.