The 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) this year is an opportune time for advocates to urge elected officials and candidates to provide stronger support, especially more funding, for our 413 national park sites. From Yosemite to Acadia, from the Everglades to Denali, our national parks represent our “most beautiful, treasured and historic places,” says NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis. Virginians are blessed with parks like Shenandoah, the George Washington Memorial Parkway and its units, Prince William Forest Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park and more.
Sadly, our parks are under siege, from threats like climate change, rising seas, wildfires, litter and invasive species. The most serious threat, in the view of many advocates, is Congress’s failure to provide adequate funds for our parks. The NPS system has a $12 billion maintenance shortfall. “Congress has declined to provide funding needed for fixes that have lingered for more than a decade,” wrote Darryl Fears in the August 28 Washington Post. When the current appropriation level of $3 billion is adjusted for inflation, NPS’s funding has declined eight percent, reported the Government Accountability Office.
Our parks, their habitats and wildlife cannot thrive without adequate resources. Auduboners can celebrate our national parks’ centennial year by advocating for more support of our national parks from Congress and the public.