Michigan Lawmakers Defend U.P. State Parks
Michigan lawmakers are defending the state’s national parks in the wake of a report released by an Oklahoma senator criticizing Isle Royale National Park and the Keweenaw National Historical Park among places where spending is misplaced and costly.
According to The Mining Report, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, recently issued his 208-page report, “Parked! How Congress’ Misplaced Priorities Are Trashing Our National Treasures.”
In a news release, Coburn said the report “documents how members of Congress have used the park service to advance parochial interests while ignoring billions in maintenance backlog at our nation’s most prized national parks, and outlines areas of low priority and wasteful spending by the park service.”
While all five of Michigan’s national park units are mentioned in the report, Coburn focused most sharply on Isle Royale and Keweenaw parks, with some additional criticism leveled at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore downstate.
Coburn said Isle Royale attracts almost 100 times fewer visitors each year than Sleeping Bear Dunes, while both parks have roughly the same $4.3 million annual budget.
“Only accessible by four ferries and a seaplane, this 42-mile-long island in the middle of Lake Superior is home to the least visited national park in the continental United States,” the report said.
Coburn said the Isle Royale budget pays for 55 full-time employees.
“These 55 full-time employees outnumber the 44 average daily visitors that come to the island,” the report said.
The park, which was created in 1931, had a $19.6 million maintenance backlog in 2012. A total of 16,746 visitors came to Isle Royale last year.
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