Investing in national parks benefits local economies, the American people, and our nation's future
Washington, D.C. – The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today said the Administration’s budget request for our national parks will help meet the operational needs to serve park visitors and protect America’s heritage for future generations as we approach the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016.
“We’re pleased that in a challenging budget year the Administration has prioritized investments in our national parks. From Yellowstone to Gettysburg, our national parks protect America’s heritage and deserve this modest investment,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan.
NPCA is calling on Congress to support the budget proposal, which appears to prevent the National Park Service from suffering cuts in park staff and visitor services. “We’re grateful that our national parks would have the funding they need to keep visitor centers open and park rangers on the ground,” said Kiernan. “People travel from across the world to enjoy these special places, so this investment not only preserves our national heritage, but also protects jobs in communities that benefit from park tourism.”
The President’s 2012 budget request for the National Park Service is approximately $2.9 billion—an increase of nearly $138 million over the current fiscal year 2011 budget that is still operating through a temporary funding measure and is currently being debated in Congress. The operations budget is approximately $2.3 billion, an increase of $35 million over the current operating budget which is not enough for the National Park Service to address an operations shortfall of more than $600 million.
In addition, the budget proposal includes an important nearly $73.7 million increase for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which would allow the Park Service to purchase land within park boundaries that may be threatened by development.
The President’s FY2012 budget proposal contrasts with the current FY2011 continuing resolution proposal released last week by the U.S. House of Representatives. If approved, the House FY11 continuing resolution would reduce the parks operations budget by nearly $24 million.
“The House committee clearly recognizes the importance of park operations in the way they prioritized investments; however, these cuts still have consequences. The Park Service is already underfunded with an operations shortfall of $600 million,” said Kiernan. “We’re also quite concerned with the size of the House committee cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is critical to protecting national parks from the constant threats of development.”
Four years ago, lawmakers recognized the dire financial situation of the parks and began to restore the operations budget, which helped decrease the operating deficit from $850 million to roughly $600 million. NPCA says the President’s budget proposal will not keep pace with that prior record of progress. However, it is an investment that appears to help the Park Service meet much of its substantial overhead costs and keep rangers serving visitors.
In recent years, more people have been visiting national parks and their spending creates millions of jobs in gateway communities. In fact, a recent study commissioned by NPCA found that every dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars economic value to the public—supporting approximately $13 billion of local private-sector economic activity and nearly 270,000 private sector jobs.
“National parks are America’s legacy to our children and grandchildren, and protecting them means that we are protecting this legacy for the future,” said Kiernan.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) 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, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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