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NPCA Issues New Graphic Depicting Hardships Budget Cuts Would Impose On National Park System


The new campaign by the National Parks Conservation Association points out what cuts to the National Park Service's budget would do to the agency and the communities that surround national parks.

Imagine if more than one third of the 397 units of the National Park System had to shut down because the Park Service didn't have the money to operate them. That's one example the National Parks Conservation Association is using to illustrate the threat of impending budget cuts on the agency.

The recently launched campaign doesn't stop there, either. It points out the economic benefits of national parks -- "Every dollar invested in park operations generates about $10 for local communities, and every two Park Service jobs yields one job outside the park" -- equates the economic might of the Park Service "to the revenue of many Fortune 500 companies," and cites a recent poll indicating that 92 percent of Americans believe park funding should either remain at current levels or be increased.

The campaign comes as the presidential campaign is getting down to the closing months, what with the GOP Convention scheduled to start Tuesday and the Democratic Convention scheduled for early September. The funding fate of the Park Service could hinge on which which party wins the presidential election in November, and which controls Congress.

To make a point that the agency shouldn't be in the calculations of either party's budget cuts, the NPCA graphic also notes that the Park Service's roughly $3 billion budget represents just one-14th of 1 percent of the entire federal budget -- in other words, very, very small potatoes -- and that "slashing" that budget could affect nearly 260,000 jobs across the country.


The greatest threat to the National Parks is not budget cuts, but the secretive, dysfunctional, wasteful, and bloated upper management of the National Park Service. This group deludes itself that they are environmental leaders, when their number one priority is growth. 'More' is simply not sustainable, for a society or for a cult-like government agency.

This aspect of the NPCA's appeal seems rather histrionic: "the Park Service could face cuts of up to 10 percent. That would likely mean closed visitor centers, . . . campgrounds . . . and parks, and thousands of parks staff out of a job."

Many state and local agencies have faced worse cuts than 10 percent and maintained full functionality.

Of course, I could be missing context. If the NPS budget has already been severely cut, then possibly a 10 percent cut could be severe. Has it been?

In either event, I have a suggestion. If the budget is cut 10 percent, or a further 10 percent, stop arming so many rangers. Presumably the armed rangers are paid more, their pensions cost more, and their equipment costs more. The presence of their sidearms is off-putting; it makes the parks feel oppressive. I especially disliked seeing a picture of an armed ranger at a North Cascades National Park pass recently. Unless bears are marauding, there would seem to be no need for it (this is assuming a handgun makes any difference to a bear). If I were there, I would feel that it puts a damper on the setting, which is within a Wilderness area, miles from any trailhead and not a likely location for a terrorist or a psychopath to unleash a rampage.

I was not aware that Yellowstone was one of the 150 smallest park units!

Graphics like these drive me nuts because even if I agree with them, they lose me with outrageous lies in the graphics. They have great points to make, but miss out with false images.

Oops. Sorry. I thought I came to a website for people who support protecting national parks. Looks like I ended up at a Tea Party website instead.

Anon - 4:43

As much as you would like to believe otherwise, being a Tea Party supporter and wanting to protect national parks aren't mutually exclusive.

Is it my imagination or does the graphic entitled "The Wrong Direction" make no sense. Surely it should read $3.04 Billion and $2.58 Billion rather than Million.

Anonymous of 4:43, I doubt there are many Tea Partiers on this site. Also, I'd bet 99% of us want to protect the national park system.

Ultimately, it's impossible for someone like me to judge from the outside whether the National Park Service is efficient, inefficient, or a combination of the two. On the one hand, the NPS final rule (recently published in the Federal Register) allowing a small degree of mountain bike use in national parks is well and intelligently written, which is all the more impressive when one considers that the NPS staff authors aren't that highly paid. And if the NPCA's stated NPS budget figure of $2.58 billion is accurate, that seems reasonable. (The NPCA graphic states $2.58 million, but obviously, as pointed out above, that's a mistake.) On the other hand, when I went to the remote Great Basin Nat'l Park a couple of summers ago, I noticed what seemed like a lot of employees driving around in big trucks. And I question the need and the desirability of having so many armed rangers. Arming people is expensive as well as lending itself to an oppressive feeling for visitors. I would doubt that making this point makes me a Tea Party aficionado, nor am I any kind of Republican either.


Those armed rangers are commissioned federal law enforcement officers that in some cases are the only law enforcement inside National Parks. The rangers are armed because they do the same high risk jobs as any police officer or highway patrolman including; serving warrants, drug busts, traffic stops and other criminal investigations. Perhaps in a perfect world where crime stops at the entrance station the rangers wouldn’t need to be armed. However in the crime riddled society of America in personally find it comforting to know that even in a National Park if someone starts a fight or discharges a weapon, a trained and armed law enforcement officer will be there soon to handle the situation.

Look at these statistics and tell me rangers do not need guns.

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