Bush admin tells national parks to operate at 20 percent below budget

You know what the problem with America’s national parks is? Profligacy. So says the Bush administration, which has ordered the parks to demonstrate that they can function with 80 percent of their current operating budgets. Bush is also proposing to cut about $100 million from the national parks’ current $2.1 billion budget next year, despite the fact that the National Park Service has backlogged maintenance needs of up to $5 billion. The 270 million folks who will visit national parks this year may notice cutbacks in such luxuries as potable water access, trash service, visitor centers, and ranger programs. “The national parks are probably in worse shape now than any of us have seen in our careers,” says Bill Wade of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. An NPS spokesflack says asking for a 20 percent cut isn’t a budget exercise: “It’s about management excellence.” Despite the outbreak of management excellence, reports of low morale among current NPS employees persist.