As of today the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are miles and miles apart over how they view the needs and worthiness of the National Park System when it comes to crafting an economic stimulus bill for the country.
According to the National Parks Conservation Association, an $825 billion stimulus bill approved Tuesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee holds only about $800 million for the national parks, while a similar measure recently passed by the House Appropriations Committee contains $2.25 billion for the parks.
(Is the House Committee's largess more than coincidence in light of the fact that committee's chair, Rep. David Obey, is the father of Craig Obey, the vice president of governmental affairs for the NPCA, which in December pointed to $2.5 billion worth of park projects?)
NPCA President Tom Kiernan lamented the Senate committee's shortage in funding park work.
"The lower Senate number misses an historic opportunity to create thousands of meaningful jobs while at the same time beginning the process of restoring our National Park System in time for its upcoming centennial. Our economic studies show that every federal dollar spent on the national parks generates at least four dollars in economic benefit to the public, and the National Park System can put Americans to work in the next 18 months at levels far above the $800 million provided by the Senate," said Mr. Kiernan.
"There is no question the higher House number makes sense for family visitors today and generations yet to come. We look to the new administration and Congress to support our national parks to the fullest extent possible, and restore our national legacy for the benefit of our children and grandchildren."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has estimated that the National Park System has a maintenance backlog of nearly $9 billion.
Projects cited by the NPCA in justifying a large stimulus package for the parks include $1 million to repair the failing sewage system at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, $10 million for repairs at the historic Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, $9 million for repairs to roads and parking lots at Acadia National Park, $21.35 million for the ongoing rehabilitation of the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park.