Target: Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Majority Leader
Goal: Stop buying new federal land for national parks and focus on maintaining existing ones.
National parks all over the country are falling into disrepair due to a small budget and Congress’s misuse of funds. Rather than funding existing parks that are in desperate need of repairs and upkeep, Congress has continually purchased new federal land. The parks’ damages are quickly accumulating, but what’s left of the budget is not enough to keep up with maintenance costs.
Roads in the national parks need repairs, campgrounds and trails need to be maintained, and visitor centers badly need basic repairs. Park-goers report potholes, trash, overgrown vistas, ditches, and dirty facilities to park officials, but there isn’t much that can be done. With all the wear and tear that has built up, historic sites and national parks need nearly $12 billion in repairs and maintenance, which is four times the National Parks Service (NPS) budget.
The NPS has a meager annual budget of $3 billion, with more budgets cuts likely coming soon. With more than 75,000 park sites around the country, this allowance is not enough to keep up with necessary maintenance costs like equipment, resources, and the employees to do the work. Park employees say they’ve had to make tough decisions on what to repair and what to leave to Mother Nature. For the 2016 budget, the NPS requested from Congress $248.2 million for urgent repairs and $300 million over three years to finish other needed repair projects.
Last year, with the defense authorization bill, Congress added seven new national parks and increased the size of nine existing ones, adding nearly 120,000 acres of land. However, it provided zero additional funding for those expansions or maintenance costs of all these sites. For as many as 20 years, parks have been neglected in favor of new projects and new land grabs. Sign this petition to tell Congress to stop buying new federal land and focus on the upkeep of our beautiful existing parks and stop spending money on new ones.
Dear Mr. McConnell,
With over 300 million visitors a year, our national parks are understandably in desperate need of upkeep and repairs. However, Congress is neglecting the state of our parks in favor of purchasing more federal land for new parks.
Visitors to parks like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Mt. Rushmore see their monuments strewn with trash, potholes, unmaintained trails, and overgrown campgrounds. The National Park Service’s budget is small enough that it’s already difficult to keep up with years of built up damage, but Congress’s feverish purchasing of new land makes it even harder to maintain existing parks.
Congress needs to stop purchasing new national parks and instead pay attention to the parks that already grace our country’s landscape. Hopefully, it will grant the NPS the small budget increase to make repairs and upgrades. The money spent on expanding federal land could instead be spent on ensuring the lasting beauty of our beloved national parks, monuments, and historical sites.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: lance_mountain via Flickr