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Sen. Thomas Trying to Get Substantial Investment in the Parks


    If I were back in Wyoming, where I spent nine pretty good years, I'd likely vote for Senator Craig Thomas's re-election for the simple fact that he's trying to get Congress to invest more in the national parks.
    Earlier this year the Republican and Representative Mark Souder of Indiana asked their respective Appropriations Committees to boost operational funding for the Park Service by $150 million. True, that's not enough to get the agency out of its longstanding financial bind, but it's a move in the right direction.
    Well, now Senator Thomas, who chairs the Senate's parks subcommittee, is circulating a letter among the Senate body asking his colleagues to endorse a letter to Dubya asking for a sizable increase in Park Service funding beginning with Fiscal 2008. True, we aren't even in FY07 yet, but things move slowly in Washington and it's good for this type of effort to get an early start.
    While there's no mention of exactly how much extra funding the senator from Wyoming is seeking, the draft letter to the president reads, in part, that, "While we recognize that these are challenging fiscal times for our nation, we must renew our commitment to ensuring that we leave a proud legacy that protects these national treasures for generations.Your leadership is crucial in this effort."
    Certainly, this sort of approach to commemorating the Park Service's 100th anniversary in 2016 is much more proactive and appropriate than simply trotting out a slogan and asking folks for suggestions on how to make the agency stronger.
    Hopefully, as Thomas's letter moves forward there will be meetings with Bruce Sheaffer, the agency's comptroller, to come up with a dollar number that will have a significant, and immediate, impact on the Park Service's nebulous backlog.

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