September 22, 2023
Dear Members of Congress,
We, the members of the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition1The National Parks Second Century Action Coalition is made up of organizations supporting conservation, recreation, outdoor industry, travel and tourism and historic preservation that are dedicated to promoting the protection, restoration, and enjoyment of the National Park System for the long-term benefit it offers our nation., and friends of the coalition write to express our strong support for a continuing resolution to keep our government open until Congress can pass Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) spending bills that invest in our parks, forests and other public lands. We also write to express deep concern with the proposed funding cuts in FY24 and urge that an eventual FY24 appropriations bill not cut public lands funding.
The 2013 and 2018 lapses in appropriations had major impacts on our public lands and the visitors, partners and gateway communities that support and surround them. Our public lands are huge economic drivers, with the national parks generating $50.3 billion to the national economy and supporting 378,000 private-sector jobs in 2022. Recreation on Bureau of Land Management lands generated $11.4 billion and 76,000 jobs in 2021. One or more government shutdowns in the coming months could have devastating impacts on our economy and threaten the protection of our parks and other public lands.
National parks alone could see a loss of nearly one million visitors and an economic loss to gateway communities of as much as $70 million every day that parks are closed in October. Thousands of national park and other public land staff could soon be put in the scary position of not knowing when their next paycheck will arrive, while gateway businesses, concessioners and partners would face threats to their livelihoods. Private businesses that run the lodges, campgrounds, marinas and outdoor recreation opportunities would lose revenue that could never be recovered. In addition, long planned maintenance and other projects by staff, volunteers, and
contractors would come to a halt resulting in delays or projects being abandoned all together.
Families, school groups, volunteers, and tourists from around the world have been making travel plans for months expecting our parks to be open. Instead, they face the possibility of disruption and disappointment when they arrive to parks and other public lands only to find gates locked, facilities shuttered and campgrounds closed.
Therefore, we urge Congress to pass a continuing resolution to keep our public lands accessible and the local economies thriving as Congress works to pass appropriation bills that support our parks and public lands. However, merely keeping our public lands open for business is not enough. Unfortunately, the FY24 House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill would cut $433 million from the National Park Service’s budget, $188 million from the Bureau of Land Management’s budget, $215 million from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s budget, and $157 million for U.S. Forest Service’s budget which could result in as a thousand or more fewer staff to ensure a quality visitor experience and visitor safety and fewer resources to protect these sites. In addition, the FY24 HouseTransportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill zeroes out the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Lands Projects Program and the National Scenic Byways Program. Both programs provide necessary investments to national parks to the benefit of millions of visitors every year.
Congress must pass funding bills that keep our public lands operating and that value our national parks, other public lands and surrounding communities for their economic and intrinsic values.
Thank you for considering our views,
American Hiking Society
American Society of Landscape Architects
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Atomic Heritage Foundation
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Chinook Trail Association
Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance
Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Discover Your Northwest
East Bay Regional Park District
Eastern Shore Rail Trail Foundation
Eastern Sierra Interpretative Association
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
Friends of Acadia
Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Friends of Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign
Great Smoky Mountains Association
International Inbound Travel Association
Kentucky Travel Industry Association
Mississippi Tourism Association
Mission Heritage Partners
Mount Rushmore Society
National Park Hospitality Association
National Parks Conservation Association
National Park Solutions, LLC
National Park Partners of Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Moccasin Bend
National Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association.
Ohio Mountain Bike Alliance
Outdoor Recreation Roundtable
Partnership for the National Trails System
Public Lands Alliance
Rock Creek Conservancy
Rocky Mountain Conservancy
RV Industry Association
San Diego Mountain Biking Association
Southeast Tourism Society
The Shenandoah National Park Trust
Student Conservation Association
Union Sportsmen’s Alliance
Visit Vicksburg, Mississippi
Washington Trails Association
Wild Rivers Conservancy
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
- 1The National Parks Second Century Action Coalition is made up of organizations supporting conservation, recreation, outdoor industry, travel and tourism and historic preservation that are dedicated to promoting the protection, restoration, and enjoyment of the National Park System for the long-term benefit it offers our nation.