Next steps key to national parks recovering from years of damaging cuts
Washington, D.C. – The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) says the compromise funding bill released last night takes an important first step in restoring needed funds for America’s national parks. By almost entirely eliminating the damaging sequester cuts, the bill should help parks, local businesses and visitors begin to move beyond many of the sequester-driven closures and the damaging government shutdown. The restored funding, if approved, will help reopen visitor centers and services, benefit park wildlife and science, and provide the much-needed maintenance to protect national parks’ outstanding natural features, wildlife and rich cultural legacy.
“This bill, at least temporarily, has stopped the budgetary bleeding by our national parks,” said Craig Obey, NPCA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “That progress was only made possible because of the budget agreement negotiated by Senator Murray and Congressman Ryan, and because Appropriations Committee leaders worked diligently to restore sequestered funds for the National Park Service,” said Obey. “We thank Appropriations Chairs Mikulski and Rogers, Interior Subcommittee Chairs Calvert and Reed, and their ranking member colleagues for beginning to reinvest in the National Park Service in Fiscal Year 2014.”
Without controlling for the impacts of inflation and other uncontrollable cost increases, the bill essentially brings the National Park Service back to the levels in FY12, prior to the damaging sequester, with an overall funding level of $2.56 billion. The sequester provided a damaging prologue and epilogue to the October government shutdown, which closed national parks throughout the country, turning away visitors and devastating local businesses with a total loss of as much as a half billion dollars in spending. The sequester compounded two prior years of cuts by leading to the closure of park roads, visitor centers, campgrounds and other facilities, and reduced the level of park rangers by nearly 2,000. “This bill does not reverse those earlier pre-sequester cuts, but makes important progress toward getting the parks fully open for business by the 2016 centennial,” said Obey.
“While we’re concerned about policy provisions in the bill that threaten the quality of the air and water in national parks, we’re pleased to see the beginning of what we hope will be a longer-term trajectory that reverses years of cuts and gets funding for national parks back on track. This doesn’t get parks to where they need to be by any measure, but sets the groundwork for needed reinvestment,” added Mr. Obey.
“As we approach the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, we call on Congress and the President to pass this bill, but the work can’t end there. Over the next few weeks, President Obama can both outline the significance of this historic anniversary and offer a budget for FY15 that gets rangers back into national parks after years of declining numbers, restores crumbling park infrastructure, and educates and engages younger generations of Americans,” said Theresa Pierno, NPCA Executive Vice President. “Restoring our national heritage enjoys wide public support and is an investment that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the country.”
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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