As the National Parks celebrate their 100th birthday today by offering free admission, it’s important to reflect on the current budget crisis plaguing these parks, and consider what we can do to help.
The Park Service has estimated that it could cost as much as $12 billion to keep up with the services needed to maintain its nearly 18,000 miles of trails and combined infrastructure. With a current budget of just $3 billion, they are currently falling well short of the support needed to protect and maintain these spaces.
A study created through a partnership between Harvard and Colorado State universities determined that “95 percent of the American public said that protecting national parks for future generations was important, and 80 percent would pay higher federal taxes to ensure the protection and preservation of the National Park System.”
So why the gap? Advocates for the National Parks system have lobbied for an endowment to give the NPS the more stable flow of cash it needs to create a more sustainable financial position for the service, but bills to start the endowment or find other financial solutions have festered in Congress.
So what can be done? Writing to your congressman and articulating your position on National Park funding is always important. If the study by Harvard and Colorado State is an accurate reflection of public sentiment, Congress needs to hear your voice. We’ve included email and mailing addresses below.
But in the short term, cash is king. There are direct and personal actions that you can take to support the National Parks Service nationally, and Rocky Mountain National Park here in Denver’s backyard.
To celebrate the National Parks Centennial today, please consider a donation to, or membership with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Since 1985, the organization has raised over $21M for projects in RMNP. These are tangible actions that have a direct impact on the sustainability of the park, and continue to make it possible for the millions of annual visitors to enjoy the open spaces. If Congress fails to act on a national level, there is no reason that we cannot support the park in our own neighborhood.
If a birthday gift to the National Parks isn’t possible for you today, please consider converting your license plate to a Rocky Mountain National Park specialty plate when you renew. You’ll have the option to make a $25 – $75 donation, with 100% of the funds directly supporting RMNP. Every dollar helps, and your plate sends a message that you support what the national parks stand for.
Everyone deserves to have a birthday celebrated. The National Parks are no different. As the United States was the first country in the world to have national parks, they are a fundamental feature of who we are as a nation and what we should continue to stand for. They are a symbol of American history and should be protected as such. Please stand with us today as we support their future.
Happy Birthday National Parks!
Here is how you can help…
Go to www.rmconservancy.org to make a donation.
Write to your Congress representative and express your desire for improved National Park funding. Contact information below: