"This budget would reinvest in our parks and would start to bring them out of the financial hole they’ve been trying to dig out of for over a decade." - Theresa Pierno, NPCA President and CEO
Washington, DC – Today, President Biden released his detailed budget proposal for fiscal year 2023, calling for a much-needed increase of nearly $342 million (a 10.5% increase) to the National Park Service (NPS). This increase would help bring back as many as 1,500 staff to the NPS and provide critical investments to address the worsening climate change crisis facing our parks and communities. For years, NPCA and our members and supporters have spoken out to ensure that our parks and park staff are taken care of, and today, the administration’s historic proposal demonstrates that we’ve been heard loud and clear.
National parks continued to break visitation records last year, even during the ongoing pandemic. But the increased visitation continues to be at odds with decreased staff capacity, based on inadequate investments by Congress. President Biden’s budget would ensure parks and park visitors are better supported by allowing the NPS to hire desperately needed staff, potentially restoring half of the more than 3,000 staff lost over the last decade.
Additionally, President Biden is proposing more investments to combat the climate crisis facing our parks and communities, pushing for green infrastructure and clean energy, and doing so with a commitment to address environmental injustice. The President’s budget proposal is a big step forward and meets the needs of Americans, who agree more than ever before on the need to combat this crisis. In fact, a new national poll by NPCA found that a strong bipartisan majority of Americans see parks as part of the solution to address climate change. And a majority of Americans (83%), regardless of political affiliation, would be likely to support their representative in Congress that supported a bill designed to reduce the impact of climate change on national parks.
The administration’s budget also calls for an increase of $2.3 billion (a nearly 24% increase) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency responsible for implementing and enforcing laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act so we can breathe healthy air and swim in clean water free of pollution. This increase would help to protect and restore the landscapes and waters our parks and gateway communities rely on, as well as replenish approximately 1,900 EPA staff.
Additional park provisions in the President’s budget, include:
- $320 million (11.5%) increase to operate national parks and ensure better resource protection.
- $31 million for a Civilian Climate Corps, which would put people to work in national parks across the country repairing infrastructure to better adapt to climate change threats.
- $405 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance Everglades restoration and resilient infrastructure projects aimed at improving water quality, water supply and habitat connectivity while increasing South Florida’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
- $4 billion investment to advance efforts to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure nationwide, with a focus on underserved communities.
- $9.7 million for a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility initiative across the Department of the Interior.
After a six-month delay, Congress finally passed the fiscal year 2022 budgets earlier this month, providing only a modest 5% increase to the NPS budget. Congress must build on those investments and ensure park staff have the resources they need to provide exceptional visitor experiences and protect our parks’ irreplaceable natural and cultural resources.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association:
“As we’ve seen time and time again, when we make national parks a priority, our communities and economies benefit. That’s why we’ve continued to fight for our parks, pushing the administration and Congress to support them by passing a budget that gives park staff the resources they need. Today’s budget proposal shows that we’ve been heard.
“Amid the ongoing global pandemic, our national parks continue to break visitation records but funding for them has not kept pace. This budget would reinvest in our parks and would start to bring them out of the financial hole they’ve been trying to dig out of for over a decade.
“Parks have been forced to cut thousands of staff, stop educational programs for visitors, and delay critically needed climate research and preservation work. Park staff are repeatedly asked to go above and beyond their required duties, and they do, multitasking as janitors, maintenance workers, traffic controllers and search and rescuers. And the best way we can show our gratitude to those who dedicate their careers to protecting our most treasured places is by finally funding parks the way they should be.
“On top of staffing woes, climate change is affecting parks from every angle and bringing many to a breaking point. Increased temperatures are drying out parks’ rivers and lakes, taking away critical water sources for plants and animals, destroying irreplaceable cultural sites and putting pressure on already failing infrastructure. We know that while our parks are hit hard by climate, they can also be part of the solution, but resources and staff are necessary to make real change.
“To protect our parks and the history of these lands and its people, we must provide the resources they need, and fast. The administration has laid the foundation, now it’s up to Congress to step up and provide the robust funding our parks, rangers and the American people need.”
About the 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 1.6 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.
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