National park funding determined by political clout rather than need

At a time when three-quarters of national parks are having their base budgets cut and park advocates are crying out about the desperate need for more funding, it may gall many enviros to find out how capricious and politically motivated park funding really is. Consider the little-known Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio: Its base budget is $9.5 million this year, more than the budgets of many parks that are much larger and more famous, including Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and Utah’s Zion National Park. What gives? Former Ohio Rep. John Seiberling (D) chaired the House Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee and had the clout to secure big bucks for the park in his state. And he’s certainly not the only powerful member of Congress to tilt budgets in favor of local pet parks, which are often better funded than the jewels of the national park system. Enviros, though, have resisted past efforts to review criteria for creating and maintaining parks.