Statement by National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan
“Over the last several weeks, we’ve seen firsthand, the devastating impacts that Hurricane Sandy has had on the northeast region’s families, local communities and businesses. The vast impact of the storm also includes unprecedented damage to many national parks. We are grateful that the Administration’s storm damage funding request to Congress includes critical disaster relief funding for the National Park Service to continue their recovery efforts and keep America’s national parks open for business.
“The National Park Service has already over-extended itself during the recovery process by relocating hundreds of rangers from parks across the country to assist with cleanup efforts in the northeast. The storm affected nearly 70 national park sites, with recovery costs expected to be nearly $350 million. While the Statue of Liberty’s torch has been rekindled, Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, and Governors Island are still closed to visitors, and it remains unclear whether the beaches of Sandy Hook, Gateway, and Fire Island National Seashore will be open this summer. Unless recovery funds are provided, this could further devastate local economies and communities throughout the northeast region.
“Overall, the National Park Service budget is 15 percent less than it was a decade ago and national parks suffer from an operations shortfall of more than $500 million annually. With the added threat of the fiscal cliff, the Park Service budget could be further cut by more than $200 million dollars, making it even more impossible for the Park Service to absorb the additional costs associated with storm recovery efforts.
“National parks protect our national treasures and draw tourists from throughout the world. As Congress considers disaster relief funding, we urge decision makers to fund the Administration’s request for national parks affected by Hurricane Sandy so they can be restored, open to the public, and continue to benefit the tourism economies that depend on the long-term recovery of the region.”
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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