Watchdog Urges Obama to Make Park Upgrades
A new report by the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) highlights several of the more than $2.5 billion worth of job-creating projects in national parks.
The report, “Working Assets: Reinvesting in National Parks to Create Jobs and Protect America’s Heritage,” encourages Congress and the incoming Obama administration to include national parks in economic recovery legislation to create jobs and restore our national treasures, according to a news release from The National Parks Conservation Society.
“Congress and the Obama administration should seize this opportunity-the best in half a century-to create jobs by reinvesting in our national park heritage,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. “The National Park Service could benefit from an investment exceeding $2.5 billion, including well over $1 billion worth of potential investments in ready-to-go park projects this year.”
In particular, NPCA’s new report highlights job-creating road repair projects in Acadia in Maine, Death Valley in California, and Glacier in Montana; accessibility improvements in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina; sewer system repair in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio; historic building preservation in Dry Tortugas in Florida and Valley Forge in Pennsylvania; and construction of much-needed employee housing in the Grand Canyon as examples of ready-to-go national park projects nationwide.
Additional projects would repair trails and bridges that visitors use every day, control invasive species, “green” park facilities such as visitor centers, and launch clean energy programs.
In total, these investments will create economic activity, including upward of 57,000 jobs, and address critical park needs in time for the Park Service’s 2016 centennial, the release stated.
A recent study commissioned by NPCA found that every federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least $4 of economic value to the public.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps, created by President Franklin Roosevelt as one anchor set to stabilize the American economy during the Great Depression. The Roosevelt Administration invested $3 billion ($47.5 billion in current dollars) over the lifetime of the program to put 3 million people to work on projects in the national parks and elsewhere-planting trees and building bridges, roads, trails, and campgrounds in national parks from Yellowstone to Shenandoah. President Roosevelt’s investment in the national parks put Americans to work and laid the foundation for the modern National Park System.
“Congress and the Obama administration have the opportunity to revitalize our national parks and prepares them for a second century of service to the nation,” Kiernan added.
NPCA was the only national conservation organization invited to testify about the stimulus before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in December and before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in October.