Budget Deal Would Restore Some Funding for National Parks

The National Parks Conservation Association said it proposed budget deal that emerged from the Congressional Budget Conference Committee Wednesday would reduce the damage that the broken budgeting process has been inflicting on our national parks.

“The budget deal opens the door for congressional appropriators to do a better job for America’s national parks, their visitors, and local economies, than has been the case in recent times, though this is not guaranteed,” said Craig Obey, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the NCPA.

Budget cuts imposed by the budget sequesters of the last two fiscal years left 2,000 fewer rangers to protect and manage park resources, abruptly impacting the visitor experience by closing campgrounds, visitor centers and roads. The budget deal restores most of those cuts, but does not guarantee that the congressional appropriations committees will provide the resources the parks need to put needed rangers back in our parks and begin to address the maintenance backlog.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of reversing recent budget trends to the future of our national parks and local economies,” said Obey. “This agreement is a first step in reversing that process, but only a small, imperfect, tentative first step. In the near term, NCPA is urging leaders in Congress, especially appropriations committee members, to better address national park needs within the confines of the current budget deal. Over the long-term, it is urging Congress to pursue an additional compromise that gets at the real causes of our deficit and helps to grow the economy.

National parks comprise just 1/15th of one percent of the federal budget and cost American taxpayers as little as a cup of coffee, yet they support more than $31 billion in annual spending and more than 250,000 jobs nationwide, according to NCPA.

“As the National Park Service prepares for its centennial in 2016, we urge President Obama and Congress to leave a lasting legacy by proposing a robust investment in America’s national parks. An investment in this and next year ‘s budgets would help parks and economies recover from this damaging budget trend as they prepare for this historic occasion, putting rangers back on duty to greet visitors and to protect our historic treasures for future generations to enjoy.”