White House shouldn’t cut funding for national parks

Letter: White House shouldn’t cut funding for national parks – Opinion

Americans, including New Mexicans, prize our national parks, but the Bush administration’s budget ignores pressing park needs by proposing a $100 million cut.

Despite continued budget pressures in an unstable world, this budget does not reflect the priority that Americans place on our national park system. It does not begin to meet the needs of our national parks. In fact, this $100 million budget cut likely means that Americans will pay higher entrance fees for fewer services in our parks this summer.

According to a nationwide Harris Poll announced a few weeks ago, national parks top the list of federal government services supported by the American people. More Americans voice support for national parks – 85 percent – than defense, at 71 percent, or Social Security and Medicare, each receiving 76 percent support.

This tremendous public support however, is not reflected in the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2007, which provides only a small increase for park operations and cuts overall funding for national parks by $100.4 million compared to current levels.

Already, national parks operate on average with only two-thirds of the needed funds – a systemwide shortfall in excess of $600 million annually. …

Last year, the overall parks budget was reduced by approximately $76 million, after being subject to multiple across-the-board cuts. …

The bipartisan National Park Centennial Act would also provide important new funds to address the parks’ maintenance and natural and cultural preservation needs. Our national heritage depends on it.

Diane Albert
UNM student

Centennial Act

The National Park Centennial Act would make the National Park System fiscally sound by the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016. It addresses myriad funding needs of the parks, including visitor center upgrades, preservation of historic buildings and museum artifacts, and the removal of invasive species. The National Park System suffers from a multi-billion backlog of maintenance projects and a crippling annual operating deficit in excess of $600 million-a condition the Centennial Act is designed to remedy.

[mjh: This link leads to a list of co-sponsors of the legislation.]

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