Yellowstone, Gettysburg, the Statue of Liberty and the Flight 93 Memorial are among the many national parks that we, as Americans, own together. Keeping this magnificent collection of places well-managed and open to everyone costs less than 1/13th of one percent of the federal budget—quite a bargain for a park system that inspires visitors from around the world and produces nearly 270,000 private sector jobs across the country.
Yet for the second year in a row, America’s national parks face an erosion of funding necessary to serve the public and protect park resources. And in today’s dollars, the overall appropriation for the National Park Service is nearly $400 million (or 13%) less than it was 10 years ago. Not only will this mean fewer rangers to greet us, help us plan our visits, and respond to emergencies, but it also means that parks won’t be adequately maintained, resources will suffer damage, wildlife will be more vulnerable to poachers, and development threats will increase.