Report Dec 3, 2015

Park on the Edge: Funding Shortfalls at Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the country, currently receives only approximately 60% of the funds it needs to adequately serve visitors, maintain roads and trails, and protect internationally recognized natural resources.

Drawing light to funding challenges, NPCA released Park on the Edge: Funding Shortfalls at Olympic National Park. The report examines the years of inadequate funding that have led to Olympic National Park’s $133 million maintenance backlog of trails, visitor centers and other facilities – contributing to the more than $11 billion buildup of maintenance needs across the National Park System. 

The report also includes four case studies, focusing on the Elwha River, Hurricane Ridge, wilderness coast, and the Hoh Rainforest. 

  • Elwha River: The largest dam removal in U.S. history occurred within Olympic National Park, at the Glines and Elwha dams. This $325 million investment has allowed for salmon to return to their historic spawning grounds and supported revegetation of the former reservoir. However, a relatively small amount of additional funds are needed to complete the restoration and allow continued scientific monitoring and research in the region. 
  • Wilderness Coast: Years of underfunding has taken its toll on weather-beaten trails, as the park does not receive enough funding for all trail maintenance projects. A $200,000 annual influx in funding could completely support the staff needed to maintain the trails for the safety of visitors as well as to prevent damage to park resources.
  • Hoh Rainforest: in this iconic section of the park, a newly renovated visitor center sadly opened without any new exhibits and only one ranger to greet visitors and provide information during most times of the year. 
  • Hurricane Ridge: For much of the winter, the stunning views and visitor center at Hurricane Ridge are left inaccessible to most visitors, as funds only allow for the road to be plowed three days per week.

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