Proposed NPS Budget Hike Draws Support
President George W. Bush has proposed a $258 million increase in funding for the National Park Service’s operating budget for 2008, a move that has drawn ready approval from factions that lobby for increased financial support of public lands.
While the proposal still leaves the financially troubled park service an estimated half-billion dollars short of its actual annual operating budget needs, the proposed increase has been widely praised by outdoor recreation groups concerned over the deteriorating quality of campgrounds and general infrastructure – roads, bridges, museums, historical structures and other facilities – operated by the federal land management agency.
“We think this is a step in the right direction,” said Blake A. Selzer, legislative director for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in Washington, D.C.
Selzer told RV Business that the more funding the park service has available to keep up with its operating budget needs, the better it will be able to slow the growth of its construction and maintenance backlog, which is estimated at $4.5 billion to $9.7 billion.
Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), also praised the proposal during a Feb. 7 White House Recreation and Parks Roundtable meeting with Bush at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Meanwhile, more than 100 prominent politicians, celebrities, CEOs, scientists, writers and religious leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter, New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Lee Iaccoca and Walter Cronkite, sent a letter to Congress on Feb. 15 seeking further increases in park service funding.
“We urge members of Congress and the president to engage in a sustained effort between now and the centennial of the National Park System and the National Park Service in 2016 to provide the resources necessary to protect our national inheritance and to ensure that our society receives the full benefit of our national parks for generations to come,” the letter said, copies of which were published in The Washington Post and Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.