WASHINGTON - January 13 - More than 100 members of the coalition of Americans for National Parks today called on President Bush to provide adequate funding for Americas financially strapped national parks. In a letter, the diverse group of national and community leaders urged the president to fulfill a campaign pledge to restore and renew Americas national parks by providing an additional $240 million in the National Park Services 2005 operating budget.
Our national parks are in triage, said Americans for National Parks Campaign Director Blake Selzer. Protection of our national heritage should be a national priority.
Research has shown that national parks are operating, on average, with less than two-thirds of needed fundingan annual shortfall in excess of $600 million. Americans for National Parks is seeking $240 million in the fiscal year 2005 budget toward this need.
Representatives from a diverse group of organizations, including Republicans for Environmental Protection, City of West Hollywood, the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation, the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, the Association of National Park Rangers, and the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance signed the letter, which was delivered to the White House today. Recognizing the economic and recreational benefits of well-funded national parks, several city council members and chambers of commerce also signed the letter.
The coalition of Americans for National Parks is composed of more than 350 members, including chambers of commerce, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, government municipalities, and tourism and trade associations, working together to encourage greater attention and full funding of the critical needs of the National Park System.
The fiscal year 2004 budget included a $55 million increase for national park operationsbarely covering cost of living increases at most parks and needs in visitor safety and education, scientific research, and historic preservation.