Press Release Mar 4, 2024

Parks Group Troubled by Looming Impacts of Budget Cuts on America’s National Parks

Funding cuts will add to growing backlog of repair needs, further challenging strained park staff.

Washington, DC – After weeks of negotiations, Senate and House Appropriations Committees released several fiscal year 2024 spending bills, including the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill that funds the National Park Service. The new, conferenced spending bill will cut $150 million from the National Park Service’s budget. This reduction will mean fewer staff and resources to ensure quality visitor experiences and safety and to protect our natural and culturally significant sites. The spending bill also includes a $25 million cut (18% cut) to smaller scale park repairs and a damaging $46 million cut (36% cut) to larger park repair projects.

While the bill’s cuts are significantly less than what was included in a bill that passed the House last November, cuts of any amount will be detrimental to our parks and park staff, making it harder for our parks to catch up with a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $22 billion. This budget deal unfortunately doesn’t make fixing and staffing our national parks enough of a priority, even though these places protect irreplaceable resources and drive our economy, generating billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs in local communities across the country every year.

Despite the blow to the Park Service’s budget, bipartisan majorities rejected extremely harmful amendments that would have put our national parks and their wildlife, clean air and water in harm’s way. We commend our park champions in Congress for removing these reckless policies, as well as working to protect natural and cultural resources like those at Minidoka National Historic Site and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which protect critical stories that tell and teach us about our nation’s past.

The Senate and the House of Representatives will vote on the funding bill in the coming days.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“The cuts Congress has proposed will reach every corner of our national parks, which now face even less staff and more delayed repair needs. Congress is setting a course to go backwards, which ultimately means less protection for these places and the stories they hold. We can’t expect our national parks to meet their mission and safely welcome millions of visitors with less. Compromise is essential for the success of our country, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of our most cherished places and the people who protect them.

“There’s no denying that this budget deal could have been worse. But that doesn’t change the fact that parks have been struggling for decades operating with fewer staff and smaller budgets to sustain soaring park visitation, worsening effects of climate change and an increasing backlog of repair needs. Further cuts to funding will only make matters worse, forcing park superintendents to make difficult decisions about how many staff they can employ or what educational programs they can sustain. It also undermines real progress being made to tackle critical maintenance needs at parks across the country.

“For years, the National Parks Conservation Association and our millions of passionate advocates have demanded our lawmakers better prioritize national parks. We commend our park champions in Congress for helping remove the most extreme funding cuts and harmful policies, but any cuts to parks compromise the very places that lawmakers have promised to protect.

“If we want to fix and preserve our national parks for future generations to enjoy and experience, it’s time Congress get serious about prioritizing and investing more in these treasured places, not less.”

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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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