Coalition: National Park Visitation Demands Greater National Park Service Budget
© National Parks Traveler
While visitation to the National Park System remains strong, the same can’t be said of the National Park Service’s ability to welcome those visitors and preserve the parks’ resources, according to the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks.
Last week Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced that more than 327 million visitors descended on the park system in 2019, a number that is seen as the third-highest single year tally dating to 1904. He did not, however, mention the roughly $12 billion maintenance backlog in the parks, nor that President Trump’s proposed FY21 budget would cut the National Park Service’s budget by 17 percent cut, and the workforce by nearly 1,000.
“Once again this administration calls for large and unacceptable reductions in the budget for the National Park Service. Visitation has risen to a reported 327.5 million with a number of parks receiving record levels of visits. We believe that the American people want and should expect that their parks are adequately funded to protect these special places,” said Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition. “The amount of staff reductions have grown year after year while visitation and the number of parks increase.
“It is unreasonable for the National Park Service to not have the capacity to protect and preserve our parks and enough staff to serve the public,” he added in an email Sunday. “Since 2009, the budget has lost some 20 percent of its purchasing power, and the maintenance backlog continues at nearly $12 billion. It’s time to provide substantial increases to the NPS budget to ensure that our parks are unimpaired for present and future generations. Inadequate funds will only make the problem worse that will require more funds in future years. The time to make a difference is now.”