Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Death by a Thousand Cuts: Report Shows Consequences of Defunding National Parks

As Congress approaches another deadline on the federal budget, a new report, released by Environment America exposes the challenges facing the country’s parks, seashores, monuments and historic sites as a result of mounting funding cuts to the National Park Service.

Graphic courtesy of
National Parks Conservation Association

“From Yellowstone to the Everglades, our country’s parks saw seasonal staffing slashed, educational programs cancelled and in some instances saw some sections of parks closed to visitors entirely this past summer,” said Aaron Weil, conservation advocate with Environment America. “We don’t want death by a thousand cuts for our national parks.”

Our national parks, seashores, trails and historic sites provide critical habitat for wildlife, ensure clean drinking water for communities across the country, and offer endless recreational opportunities. Visitors to this country’s parks have been enjoying the chance to hike canoe, camp, or just take in the awe-inspiring beauty of these iconic landscapes for more than 100 years.

In addition to national parks being closed during the government shutdown last year, 2013 was the third straight year Congress cut funding to the National Park Service operating budget. Additional cuts from the March sequester make for a 13 percent reduction in funding for our parks in todays dollars over this period.

Open and Shut? - NPCA Infographic

Infographic courtesy of the
National Parks Conservation Association

The report, Death by a Thousand Cuts, looks at individual states' National Parks statistics and gives concrete examples of how each state's Parks have been affected by defunding, such as:

  • At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan park-led ranger programs including environmental education programs for school groups were decreased across the board, as were the monitoring programs for the endangered piping plover.
  • At Yellowstone National Park in Montana, snow plowing was delayed two weeks, forcing the park to start the season later than originally scheduled. This had a direct impact on approximately 135,000 visitors and an equivalent loss in revenue.

“Let’s give our parks a new start in 2014,” added Weil. “If we continue on this path, our grandchildren could be forced to explore parking lots and fracking wells instead of river valleys and mountaintops.”

“In addition to their wealth of beauty and wonder, our parks generate more than $30 billion in revenue every year, and support more than 250,000 jobs” said Weil. “Defunding our parks is like shooting ourselves in the foot.”

While the budget deal passed in December may allow for some increase in the parks budget, it’s up to congressional spending committees to decide the actual funding levels this month.

“We urge Congress to stand up for our National Parks by providing the resources and funding they desperately need during the upcoming budget negotiations,” Weil concluded. “America’s park lovers are counting on it.”

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY and PUBLIC LANDS pages for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less

In many parts of the U.S., family farms are disappearing and being replaced by suburban sprawl.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
General view of the empty Alma bridge, in front of the Eiffel tower, while the city imposes emergency measures to combat the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, on March 17, 2020 in Paris, France. Edward Berthelot / Getty Images

Half the world is on lockdown. So, the constant hum of cars, trucks, trains and heavy machinery has stopped, drastically reducing the intensity of the vibrations rippling through the Earth's crust. Seismologists, who use highly sensitive equipment, have noticed a difference in the hum caused by human activity, according to Fast Company.

Read More Show Less
The current rate of CO2 emissions is a major event in the recorded history of Earth. EPA

By Andrew Glikson

At several points in the history of our planet, increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have caused extreme global warming, prompting the majority of species on Earth to die out.

Read More Show Less
The "Earthrise" photograph that inspired the first Earth Day. NASA / Bill Anders

For EcoWatchers, April usually means one thing: Earth Day. But how do you celebrate the environment while staying home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus?

Read More Show Less