“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”
I write to you with deep concern about the threat the current budget situation poses to national parks. Congress has allowed park budgets to continuously erode, and now face the possibility of an additional cut in January. We cannot allow our national parks to be the victims of a failed budget process, especially when parks are so important to millions of Americans like me and do so much to benefit many local economies.
If Congress fails to find a solution by January, the National Park Service budget will automatically be cut by more than $200 million. That could mean some level of closure at virtually every national park in the system, including reductions in park hours or seasons, closures of campgrounds or visitor’s centers, and even the outright closure of many parks in the next year. And it will force the firing of as many as 9,000 rangers who serve the public, protect our parks, and keep the parks running—a devastating blow. We need a balanced approach to addressing the federal budget deficit that accounts for cuts to parks that have already occurred.
Even if the mindless budget sequester does not occur, Congress needs to stop nickel and diming our nation’s national parks each year. The budget for the National Park Service in today’s dollars is already 15 percent less than it was a decade ago. Every driver knows you need to put enough gas in the tank or you run out. Congress isn’t putting enough gas in the tank, and the tires are about to fall off.
Washington needs to solve our deficit problem, but national parks didn’t cause the deficit. Cutting or closing them won’t cure it. Our national parks attract nearly 280 million visitors each year. The parks support 258,000 jobs and more than $30 billion in private-sector spending and generate $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar spent. And they do it all with funding that is only 1/14th of 1 percent of the federal budget. Our national parks are job producers and economy builders (in the latest political parlance) and should be treated accordingly in federal budget deliberations, not subjected to mindless cuts. At the end of the day, slashing national park spending does not make sense.
At a time when there is so much disagreement, the American public agrees that protecting our national parks should be a priority. According to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters–which includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents–agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased. I am one of those people. Please prevent the January sequester from occurring, and support an alternative solution that protects our national treasures. We should be investing in what works.
If this is something YOU believe in, take action here.
(Edited from a boilerplate message on NPCA.org)
Here’s some history of the National Parks in the US.
Winter in Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee / Evosia on Vimeo.