Investing in Our National Park Service: A Proposal for the Transition Team

U.S. national parks remain what American author Wallace Stegner once called America’s Best Idea. Our parks enjoy bi- partisan support and are a model for park systems around the globe. By any measure, the idea is a success. But, as we transition to a new administration, it is timely to ask this question: will the System continue to serve its intended purpose in a new century? Will it remain effective and popular in the next fifty or one hundred years?

We are a different people than we were in 1916, 1966, or even 15 years ago. We communicate differently, use technology differently, learn differently, travel and recreate differently, and our economy has changed in fundamental ways. How will the National Park Service meet these challenges and remain current, responsive, and popular to all Americans?

National parks are valued by all our citizens and are enjoyed by over 300 million visitors; they are proven economic engines generating $16.9 billion annually in visitor spending and $32 billion in impact on the national economy. Yet, today parks are challenged by aging infrastructure. Substantial investments are needed in visitor centers, transportation, water systems, and telecommunications.

Funding is also needed for staff to address issues of public safety, overcrowding, and facility maintenance. The National Park Service is an important partner to both states and local communities providing access to healthy outdoor recreation and revitalizing communities using cost effective partnership strategies. Finally, to continue its tradition of good work, the National Park Service needs reinvigorated leadership and close attention to its work force development.

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks has prepared three papers with recommendations to address the most critical issues facing our parks in the next four years.

Get the details here…


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