The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kathleen O'Neil, National Parks Conservation Association, 202.419.3717

National Parks Conservation Association Urges Senate to Protect National Parks From Climate Change and Support Local Economies


Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources National Parks
Subcommittee will hear testimony on the greatest challenge facing our
national parks: disruptions due to climate change. The National Parks
Conservation Association (NPCA) will also submit written testimony
documenting these impacts occurring throughout the National Park
System, and the steps needed to protect them as climate change advances.

National parks and their wildlife are already seeing increasing
temperatures, drought, fires, and flooding that threaten the coral
reefs of Biscayne National Park to the grizzlies of Yellowstone. Insect
pests are thriving due to warmer winters and drought-stressed trees in Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain
National Parks. As temperatures rise in higher altitudes, animals are
being driven upward in elevation and are running out of places to live.

"Our national parks are counting on Congress to commit the resources
necessary to protect them from the effects of climate change," said
Mark Wenzler, director of clean air and climate programs for NPCA.
"Fortunately, climate legislation currently before Congress provides an
historic opportunity to safeguard our national parks and wildlife from
destructive impacts."

These natural systems are also the foundations of healthy
communities and economies across the country. Keeping rivers, forests,
deserts, alpine regions, wetlands and other natural systems healthy
helps maintain $730 billion in economic activity generated by outdoor
recreation, allows us as a nation to support nearly 6.5 million related
jobs - one in 20 across the U.S. economy. This activity also generates
$88 billion in state and federal tax revenue. National parks themselves
generate at a minimum, more than four dollars in value for every tax
dollar invested, and support $13.3 billion in local, private sector
activity and more than a quarter of a million private sector jobs.

Some of the legislation before Congress could not only protect
parks' natural resources from climate change, but would also provide
communities near the parks with new opportunities for economic growth.
Investing in national parks, particularly in the protection and
restoration of habitats, can put Americans to work and preserve their
uniqueness for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

For more information about climate change and our national parks, click here.

To view NPCA's written testimony, click here.

NPCA is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.