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Made in America: New Report Finds National Parks at a Tipping Point Leading Into Super Committee Deadline

November 13, 2011 Comments off

Made in America: New Report Finds National Parks at a Tipping Point Leading Into Super Committee Deadline
Source: National Parks Conservation Association

As Washington policymakers await action by the Congressional Super Committee, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today released a new report titled “Made in America: Investing in National Parks for Our Heritage and Our Economy,” which details how national parks and visitors could be impacted if the Super Committee fails and mandatory across-the-board cuts are made to the federal budget. The report also finds that investing in national parks not only protects our national heritage, but is critical to supporting the livelihood of businesses and communities across the country.

From the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina to Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana and Olympic National Park in Washington, the new report examines a sample of our most challenged national parks and the long-term consequences that additional funding cuts could have on our national treasures. For the second year in a row, America’s national parks face the likely erosion of funding necessary to serve the public and protect park resources. The report finds that additional budget cuts could jeopardize visitor services at national parks across the country.

In the past two years, park visitation has been higher than it has been in a decade—yet national parks suffer from an annual operations shortfall of $500-$600 million, and receive $325 million less per year than necessary to keep an $11 billion maintenance backlog from getting worse. Further cuts could mean fewer rangers to greet visitors, reduced visitor center hours, shortened campground seasons, closure of entrance stations and backcountry trails, fewer educational programs, and reduced law enforcement patrols to safeguard America’s heritage.

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Ozone Levels in National Parks Continue to Increase, Parks Group Asks Congress Not to Strip Out Protections Against the Dangerous Pollutant

September 19, 2011 Comments off

Ozone Levels in National Parks Continue to Increase, Parks Group Asks Congress Not to Strip Out Protections Against the Dangerous Pollutant
Source: National Parks Conservation Association

Each year, tens of millions of people visit picturesque national parks like Joshua Tree National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Sequoia National Park expecting clean, healthy air, but increasingly they are putting themselves at risk for serious respiratory and pulmonary illnesses caused by ozone pollution in these parks. Today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has released a pointed report on this growing threat to our national parks that also details how two pieces of pending legislation in Congress threaten to exacerbate the situation even more.

Report findings indicate that so far this year there have been 234 exceedances of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health-based ozone standard in 18 of the national parks with ozone monitors, resulting in a number of “Code Red” days when even healthy people are advised to protect their lungs by avoiding vigorous outdoor exercise – precisely what many visitors come to the parks to do. That number compares with 223 national park ozone exceedances in all of 2010 and 196 in all of 2009. And there are still two months remaining in the current ozone season. In both 2009 and 2010, national parks had dozens of exceedances of the ozone standard in September and October.

+ Full Report (PDF)

The State of America’s National Parks

June 29, 2011 Comments off

The State of America’s National Parks
Source: National Parks Conservation Association

The State of America’s National Parks is the culmination of ten years of research on the condition of natural and cultural resources within America’s national parks. The data for this report were gleaned from the Center’s research on 80 national parks. This research uncovered many examples of serious threats to park resources, including impacts from activities occurring on adjacent lands, concerns related to invasive non-native species, insufficient attention given to the stewardship of cultural resources, and a general lack of sufficient staff and funds to care for and interpret park resources. The Center’s work also documented notable National Park Service successes in protecting park resources, such as restoration projects throughout the park system, collaboration with other land managers, and deployment of teams of trained specialists to address resource management issues shared among parks. With the release of this report, these key findings—as well as recommendations for how to address concerns—are now presented in one place.

The State of America’s National Parks includes chapters on natural and cultural resource conditions, Park Service programs and processes that are successfully meeting the challenge of protecting resources, and the benefits of a landscape conservation approach for preserving natural and cultural resources in national parks and in the surrounding landscapes. A series of recommendations indicates ways to address problems the National Park Service faces as the agency strives to meet its responsibility to care for national park resources. The report urges the administration, Congress, and the Park Service to recognize threats to park resources and act on opportunities to defend the natural and cultural resources our national parks are designed to protect.

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