President Obama and our congressional representatives should be among the 95 percent of Americans who care about our national parks. This is especially important now as debates over the federal budget continue to heat up and the National Park Service's already meager budget is threatened.
National parks protect our natural and cultural heritage and provide affordable vacation destinations for thousands of American families, but the Park Service budget has already been cut by 6 percent in just the last two years. Further cuts could be devastating and result in park closures across the country!
Our national parks have already paid their fair share. The American people deserve a balanced approach to deficit reduction that accounts for cuts that have already occurred, not closed campgrounds, vacant visitor centers, and history lost to neglect.
Urge President Obama and Congress to keep our parks open!
I write to you with deep concern about the threat the current budget situation poses to national parks. Park budgets have been eroding continuously and now face the possibility of an additional mindless cut in January. Congress should not allow our national parks to be the victims of a failed budget process, especially when parks are so important to millions of Americans like me and do so much to benefit many local economies.
If Congress fails to find a solution by January, the National Park Service budget will automatically be cut by more than $200 million. That could mean some level of closure at virtually every national park in the system, including reductions in park hours or seasons, closures of campgrounds or visitor's centers, and even the outright closure of many parks in the next year. And it could eliminate as many as 9,000 rangers who serve the public, protect our parks, and keep the parks running -- a devastating blow. We need a balanced approach to addressing the federal budget deficit that accounts for cuts to parks that have already occurred.
Even if the mindless budget sequester does not occur, Congress needs to stop nickeling and diming the parks every year. The budget for the National Park Service in today's dollars is already 15 percent less than it was a decade ago. Every driver knows you need to put enough gas in the tank or you run out. Congress isn't putting enough gas in the tank, and the tires are ready to fall off, too.
Washington needs to solve our deficit problem, but national parks didn't cause the deficit and cutting or closing them won't cure it. Our national parks attract nearly 280 million visitors each year. The parks support 258,000 jobs and more than $30 billion in private-sector spending. They generate $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar spent. And they do it all with funding that is only 1/14th of 1 percent of the federal budget. Our national parks are job producers and economy builders and should be treated accordingly in federal budget deliberations, not subjected to mindless cuts. Slashing national park spending truly is penny-wise and pound foolish.
At a time when there is so much disagreement, the American public agrees that protecting our national parks should be a priority. According to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased. I am one of those people.
Please prevent the January sequester from occurring, and support an alternative solution that protects our national treasures. We should be investing in what works.
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