Letter: National Parks Can’t Keep Doing More With Less
by Opinion Contributor
February 28, 2022
Sen. Angus King is pushing for additional national parks staffing, and I couldn’t agree more. For too long national parks have been asked to do more with less.
Attendance hit new records at national parks across the country in 2021, including Great Smoky Mountains, Big Bend and Zion. Despite their growing popularity over the last decade, the Park Service’s funding and staffing levels don’t match up. From 2011 to 2019, the agency lost 16 percent of its staff capacity (more than 3,500 positions), and Maine’s national parks like Acadia are no different. Acadia’s visitation has skyrocketed – a record four million visitors in 2021 – but the park continues to struggle with understaffing, as overwhelmed rangers multitask as emergency responders, educators, maintenance workers, traffic controllers, wildlife biologists and more.
King’s vital funding request would bring more than 4,400 employees back into the Park Service, providing staffing levels that it hasn’t seen in more than a decade. This is a great start and a necessary one if we want our parks to continue welcoming millions of people each year.
Congress has an opportunity right now to address this issue. I urge Sens. King and Susan Collins to support this effort and work with their colleagues to ensure that our national parks receive the funding and staff they need to protect some of our country’s most irreplaceable natural and cultural resources for generations to come.
Acadia National Park