Bush Calls For More National Parks Funding; Critics Remain Skeptical

Speaking at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on Friday, President Bush asked Congress to commit billions more dollars to the national park system, a move his supporters saw as evidence of his environmental commitment and critics called a pointless PR op. The president boasted that he’d already dedicated almost $2.9 billion to improving national parks and requested an addition $5 billion over the next five years. The National Parks Conservation Association contested those numbers, saying the $2.9 billion includes existing spending, not the new money that Bush pledged during his campaign to eliminate the backlog in parks repairs and maintenance. In reality, the group says, the Bush administration has spent just $370 million in new money toward relieving the backlog. The California park where Bush spoke faces an annual shortfall of more than $6 million.