Feds urged to spend more on national parks

Spending on national parks should be increased by at least $700 million over the next seven years, an independent panel urged Congress on Thursday .

The additional spending should bring increased tourism, promote enjoyment of the outdoors and help preserve national treasures for future generations, the panel said.

The bipartisan National Parks Second Century Commission also urged President Barack Obama to appoint a panel charged with promoting the parks and raising private money in time for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. It also called for an expansion of the National Park Service’s mission, making education an explicit part of the agency for the first time.

“America stands at a crossroads: Down one road lie missed opportunities and irretrievable loss of our natural and cultural legacy. Down the other is a future in which national parks — protected forever and for all — help forge a better world,” the commission said.

The panel, chaired by former Sens. Howard Baker of Tennessee and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, presented the 52-page report to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday.

Salazar said a spending request by Obama for the next fiscal year would increase park spending by $100 million — exactly the amount the group recommended.

Salazar called preserving and enhancing national parks a solemn obligation, and said he and Obama are committed to honoring that pledge.

“These are beautiful places and historic sites that have been passed on to us by past generations, and now we have a responsibility to pass on these treasures to our children and grandchildren,” Salazar said.

Baker, a Republican, and Johnston, a Democrat, worked on the report for 13 months. The commission was made up of 26 national leaders and experts, including scientists, historians, conservationists, academics, business leaders, policy experts and retired National Park Service executives. The panel held five public hearings at national parks across the country.

“The national parks truly are America’s best idea, and these recommendations will make the national parks even more central to the lives of all Americans,” Johnston said.

Baker called park expansion “an issue whose time has come,” adding that for the first time, he senses that the American public “has come to understand the importance of the park system in a broad-based way.”

Baker and other speakers were confident the report would benefit from a coincidence of timing: PBS is set to air a six-part documentary series on national parks directed by Ken Burns beginning Sunday.

The series, called “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” is scheduled to run through Oct. 2 on most PBS stations.

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On the Net:

Report: http://www.visionfortheparks.org

PBS series: http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks

3 Responses to "Feds urged to spend more on national parks"

  1. Sandra Price  September 25, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    More funding for the Federal Parks can only be approved when we reduce the size of our debts. I am a supporter of these parks and suggest we add a fee to any car or group who wants to use them. There are many things we Americans would like to have but we prioritize these until our bills are paid.

    Sandy

  2. gazelle1929  September 25, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    http://bulletin.aarp.org/yourmoney/saveabuck/articles/save_a_buck_summer_special_fees_waived_for_three_weekends_at_147_national_parks.html?CMP=KNC-360I-GOOGLE-BULL&HBX_OU=50&HBX_PK=national_park_entrance_fees

    $25 to look at the Grand Canyon, which belongs to God. And you want to add more fees? We ought to be able to power the world if we could hitch a dynamo to Teddy Roosevelt, who is certainly spinning madly in his grave.

  3. Sandra Price  September 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    The $25 you paid to see the Grand Canyon was to pay for the look out thing that was not necessary as one can stand and look at the Canyon from either side. God does not own the Canyon but the Federal Government does. These are natural wonders and outside of cleaning up after the dirty people, there should be little charge to maintain it.

    Teddy Roosevelt is dead gazelle and spinning anywhere is fiction. One might get upset when the beaches on the Pacific Ocean need cleaning. We do it ourselves because the beaches are our back yards and do not belong to God.

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