"National parks drive our economy, generating billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs in local communities across the country every year. Now is the time to invest more in our parks, not less." -- Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO
Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed its fiscal year 2024 spending bill for the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, including the National Park Service. The spending bill cuts $433 million (12.5%) from the National Park Service’s budget. This reduction could mean as many as 1,000 fewer staff to ensure visitor experience and safety, shuttered facilities, and fewer resources to protect our beloved natural and culturally historic sites.
The spending bill also includes deep cuts to Park Service maintenance and repairs, as well as historic preservation funding that is critical to protecting stories and places that tell our nation’s history. Additionally, the bill slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air and water programs while undoing recent investments to help our communities and park landscapes better face climate change and natural disasters.
Despite the blow to the Park Service’s budget, bipartisan majorities rejected harmful amendments that would have undermined the Antiquities Act and rolled back protections for Chaco Culture National Historical Park, showing Congress recognizes that preserving our natural and cultural heritage is part of our country’s legacy. Unfortunately, the House then voted to pass an appropriations bill that would devastate the 425 national parks and historical sites.
The National Park Service is only a tiny slice of our federal budget — less than one-fifteenth of one percent — yet delivers significant economic benefits, with $15 in economic activity generated for each dollar invested. Between 2012 and 2022, visitation grew by 10% while staffing declined by 13%. Today, the Park Service has 2,600 fewer staff than in 2011. The deep and unrealistic cuts proposed in the House’s Interior appropriations bill only add insult to injury and undermine years of bipartisan progress in Congress to address park funding needs.
The Senate has prepared a bipartisan version of the bill that rejects the cuts embraced by the House. But the clock is ticking to enact funding legislation and avoid a government shutdown before the current continuing resolution expires November 17.
Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):
“We’ve said time and again that a vote for this damaging spending bill is a vote against the future of our national parks and public lands. Unfortunately, a majority of the House of Representatives today voted to slash critical funding for our parks and the people who have given their careers to protect them, further weakening an already struggling Park Service.
“Under this ill-conceived and unrealistic bill, the National Park Service would lose more than 12% of its annual budget, when they’ve already been surviving off barebones budgets and losing staff for decades. Funding cuts of this magnitude would devastate the Park Service, leading to severe staffing cuts at a time when visitation to parks soars and climate change continues to drastically alter their landscapes. National parks are part of our American identity and mean so much to so many. Yet, many lawmakers are willing to abandon them when they need our help the most.
“Slashing national parks’ funding won’t solve our country’s growing federal debt problem. In fact, the opposite is true. National parks drive our economy, generating billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs in local communities across the country every year. Now is the time to invest more in our parks, not less.
“The Senate must oppose these reckless cuts. The ability our national parks have to unite and bring people together is steadfast. It’s time for lawmakers from across the country and across the aisle to unify behind this power and support a spending bill that prioritizes our communities and national parks, just as they did with last year’s bill.”
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 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 http://www.npca.org/.
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