(StatePoint) Local communities nationwide are feeling a negative impact from funding cuts to national parks, which are hurting local businesses.
During the recent Federal Government shutdown, national park closures dominated headlines, with stories of disappointed visitors and hundreds of hotels, restaurants and stores losing business. While parks are open again, if funding continues on its current course, many will close a few days a week, school programs will be cancelled, and much-needed repairs will be neglected, say experts.
Over the last decade, the National Park Service construction budget has declined by nearly 70 percent in today's dollars, delaying the opening of parks or park roads; closing visitor centers, picnic areas and campgrounds; and decreasing the number of rangers protecting parks.
And national parks are a tiny, declining part of the federal budget. Indeed, the average household pays $2.56 in taxes each ear for national parks, a little more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
As Deny Galvin, former deputy director of the National Park Service noted, parks are the wrong place to pinch pennies: “If you eliminated the entire Park Service budget,” he said, “it would take about 6,000 years to eliminate the debt.”
The more Congress cuts funding for park construction and maintenance, the more buildings and roads fall apart and need extensive work, causing lasting damage and higher costs in the long run. With this in mind, the National Parks Conservation Association is calling on Congress to address this issue. For more information, visit www.NPCA.org.