Today is tax day in the U.S. (need we remind you?), but not many of your tax dollars will go to support the national park system — and certainly not enough, conservationists say. The system is suffering from a $4.9 billion backlog in maintenance and improvement projects, a 40 percent shortfall for interpretive and educational services, and a 33 percent shortfall for security and safety. The result? Dilapidated buildings, woefully inadequate research funding, and increasing thievery and poaching of park treasures because fewer rangers are available to patrol vast areas. During his campaign, President Bush promised to eliminate the maintenance backlog within five years, but so far has only chipped away at the problem. Conservationists and a broad bipartisan coalition are urging Congress to increase the National Park Service’s overall operating budget by $280 million next year, $173 million more than the increase sought by the White House.
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