Sadder Day in the Park
Summer is just around the bend, and with it, people all over the country will begin their annual pilgrimages to U.S national parks. Unfortunately, the parks aren’t ready for them: They are underfunded, over-crowded, and in disrepair. The National Park Service budget has declined almost 20 percent in the last 25 years, while the park system itself has grown in size, number of parks, and number of visitors. Ken Mabery, president of the Association of National Park Rangers, says, “We’re running from crisis to crisis.” And the evidence is on his side: Wyoming’s Yellowstone has had to turn away 60 percent of school tours because of lack of staff; the visitor center at Death Valley in California is in such bad shape that part of its roof fell in, injuring a visitor; and the roads in Montana’s Glacier National Park need more money than exists in the entire national park budget for road repairs. Meanwhile, Arizona’s Grand Canyon is facing such a budget crunch that it has no geologist on staff, no way to solve its terrible traffic problem, and, most alarmingly, not enough employees to adequately protect the famed ecosystem.