Another Take on Obama 2014 Park Budget
The following statement was issued last week by Theresa Pierno, executive vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association. The release of President Obama’s 2014 budget proposes that the National Park Service budget would increase by $56.6 million over FY12, but the increase is partially offset by programmatic decreases to park base operations. The proposal includes important investments but also provides a reduction of nearly a 100 staff in park operations.
“The National Park Service is experiencing deep impacts from the sequester and other continued reductions. This year will be the most challenging in some time for national park superintendents who will have fewer rangers and smaller budgets to manage each park from Yellowstone to Acadia. Funding the operations of the National Park Service needs to be more of a priority than it has been to date. We’re pleased that the President recognizes the need to reverse the mindless sequester, but it will take more than that recognition to address the reality facing national parks.”
“The sequester has already cut more than $130 million from the National Park Service budget, forcing places like Yellowstone, Acadia, Independence Hall, and Cape Cod National Seashore to delay seasonal openings, close visitor centers, picnic areas, and campgrounds, and eliminate ranger positions that are critical to protecting endangered species and historic buildings, as well as greeting park visitors and school groups. Further cuts will only impair the national park experience.
“National parks draw international tourists and are economic engines that support more than $30 billion in spending and more than a quarter million jobs. Yet they suffer from an annual operating shortfall exceeding half a billion dollars and a maintenance backlog of many billions more. And in today’s dollars, the Park Service budget has now declined by more than 20 percent over the last decade.
“We need the President and Congress to make sure America’s national parks are open and well-staffed and nothing in this budget provides us with any confidence that will happen. Our national parks are not just great destinations to visit, they are our national treasures that should be treated with honor. They drive the economy for many rural and urban communities. The severe under-funding of our most prized places needs to be reversed. We hope to work with the President and Congress as they debate how to repair a failed federal budgeting process to better address the true causes of the nation’s deficits and better serve our national parks and the American people.”