If you placed a bet that the $3 billion National Park Centennial Initiative would be fully funded and in place this year, well, you had better check into canceling that bet.
This is what Representative Nick Rahall had to say about that proposal the other day:
(W)e will not rob Peter to pay Paul. Increases in funding for park operations are essential, but they should not come at the expense of other NPS programs or other land-management agencies. No park will ever be truly whole if its historic resources are not preserved or if the national forest or wildlife refuge next door is not also adequately protected.
In other words, if Dubya, Dirk and Mary plan to fund the initiative by cutting funding to the Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or somewhere else, Congressman Rahall, who chairs the House Resources Committee, ain't gonna let it happen.
The Democrat, who laid out his thoughts to a gathering of the National Parks Conservation Association staff, also expressed concerns over private philanthropy dictating priorities to the Park Service. (Lord knows Congress does enough of that...)
And Representative Rahall said that "any increase in park funding should be real money. This means the increased spending must have an offset. Our parks need cash, not credit; they deserve paper money, not money that exists only on paper. If those who currently enjoy enormous profits from energy development on our public lands were made to pay even a fraction of what they actually owe for the privilege, we would be able to fund our park system well into its second century."
Now, the congressman concluded by saying he believes "it is possible to create a funding plan for the national park system that meets these tests and I am committed to contributing to work toward that goal."
Only time will tell how such a plan might be crafted, as Representative Rahall didn't tip his hand.