National Parks Face Crippling Budget Shortfalls

Two reports released this week document severe underfunding of U.S. national parks and warn that drastic budget shortfalls will affect park safety and visitor enjoyment. Two parks advocacy organizations — the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of Concerned National Park Retirees — criticize the Bush administration’s parks policies. The NPCA report says $290 million in additional federal funding for the National Park Service is needed beyond what the administration has proposed for fiscal year 2005. The parks have been hit particularly hard of late by natural disasters and homeland security measures — an orange terror alert costs the NPS roughly $1 million a month in increased security around national monuments. Visitor numbers continue to rise and funding is not keeping pace. ”We’re on the verge of crossing the line to where the public will notice” service cuts, said NPS spokesperson David Barna.