The national parks face Draconian budget cuts this winter. Unless congress can find a solution to our budget problems, places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Gettysburg face nearly 10 percent cuts!
Critics of park spending often argue that the federal government is broke and must bring spending in line with revenues. This position overlooks several facts. First, the national parks are huge economic engines. For every dollar spent on national parks, economic research shows that ten dollars is spent in park gateway communities and businesses. In real terms, national parks pump $30 billion into the national economy. An outstanding return!
Further, even if the national park service budget was cut to zero it would have little or no impact upon the deficit. The national park service budget is 1/14 of 1 percent of the entire federal budget. The country can't balance the budget on the parks. However, even if the parks were zeroed out, irreplaceable natural wonders and historic sites such as the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore could be lost forever. A classic example of the cure being worse than the disease.
National parks belong to all Americans, they preserve and protect some of our most sacred ideas, hopes, and places. We owe it to ourselves and to all future generations of Americans to leave the park system in better shape than when we inherited it. Previous generations were able to preserve and pass on the national parks through the end of the civil war, the first and second world wars, the great depression, the cold war and on and on. Previous generations always seemed to find the resolve and resources to protect our parks.
Now the mantle has been passed to us. Are we up to the challenge?
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