Funding Our Parks
Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23rd), San Antonio, Texas
Congressman Hurd, an outspoken park champion, represents half of Texas’ national park sites. He demonstrates his commitment to the parks and communities in his district through his attendance at NPCA-sponsored events, like the annual San Antonio Missions veterans bike ride, and is an ardent supporter of increased park funding. His most lasting park legacy, in fact, will likely be his dogged leadership in the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, which would help address the Park Service’s immense repair backlog.
Peri Frances, Jacksonville, Florida
Peri is a Regional Council member whose roots in the Jacksonville/Amelia Island area predate the entrance of Florida into the United States. She is an outspoken advocate for better funding for our parks and a proud descendent of Zephaniah Kingsley and his African wife Anta N’diaye or Anna Kingsley (whose unique story of race, identity and perseverance lives on at Kingsley Plantation, now part of Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve). Peri uses her time and talents to educate members of Congress and bring groups to Kingsley Plantation, to camp on historic American Beach and see the tallest sand dune in the state of Florida.
Due to years of congressional underfunding, the National Park Service lacks the resources to adequately staff its parks and programs, address nearly $12 billion in repairs, provide routine maintenance, and protect the treasures of the park system.
Inadequate funding in recent years has led to crumbling facilities and too few rangers and other staff to serve visitors and protect cultural and natural resources. Parks have seen a 14% increase in visitation over the last five years, yet the park system has seen a 14% reduction in staff during the same time period. The National Park Service needs more resources, not less, to effectively manage its growing backlog and serve the needs of its unique and iconic resources, as well as the millions of visitors who travel the world to visit these natural and historic wonders.
As Congress deliberates these and other funding initiatives, NPCA provides national park advocates with frequent opportunities to encourage support for the national parks. For example, during the January 2019 government shutdown, more than 12,000 of our supporters asked their members of Congress to end the damaging shutdown and fully reopen parks.
National parks are a part of the American experience, and the eight in my district, including Big Bend and the San Antonio Missions, provide immeasurable cultural, environmental and economic benefits. We have a responsibility as a nation to care for these treasures.