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Reader Participation Day: Should There Be a Moratorium On Additions To the National Park System?


If you follow national parks and the National Park Service to any degree, you likely know that the agency has a very hefty maintenance backlog. Latest figures show that backlog is somewhere between $8 billion and $9 billion.

And yet, members of Congress have no qualms about adding new units to the National Park System. Would you run your household this way? Is it fiscally prudent to keep adding units when we can't seem to afford the ones we already have?

Or, because some of these opportunities are not going to be around forever, should those that merit entrance to that elite club called the National Park System be added with the details about how to pay for them, as well as getting serious about wiping out the backlog, put off for some other day?

Bottom line, travelers: Should there be a moratorium on additions to the National Park System until the red ink is wiped out?


The entire NPS budget is less than 1/1000th of the Federal budget. We spend more on cosmetics, more on pet grooming, and more on potato chips, than we do on our National Parks!

Does this match the importance we place on our National Park system?

I think not.

Despite the dismal outlook for the Federal budget for the coming decades, we need not give up on properly funding NPS. The Second Century Commission Report suggests several initiatives to achieve this.

I am in favor of increasing entrance fees. One would think that even a minor adjustment would make a big difference on the NPS budget. That would help reduce the backlog. A vacation at a National Park is still the best bargain around, even at $30 or $40 per car. Where else can you take a family for $40 per day?

It is not a good time for a moratorium on the addition of new NPS units. Mt St Helens NVM deperately needs an all-risk management entity, a coherent management plan befitting such a national treasure, as well as stable funding. NPS is the only agency that can offer these things, and is, frankly, MSH's only possible "salvation" as far as I am concerned. Maintaining the status quo is resulting in the slow and painful demise of this monument, with consequences for the local region as well as every American.

we must take advantage of every opportunity to add to protected lands - even if we are not quite sure how we're going to pay for any management we may want for them. At the very least, protecting lands now will keep them as they are now even if we don't have any on-the-ground management. To me, that is a better scenario than having lands developed and the opportunity is lost forever to protect them as parks, refuges, wilderness, etc.. Think of it as land banking for the future. Once wild lands are developed, they are lost forever.


@Y P W:

National Monuments do not require Congressional approval to be established. However, they do require Congress to pass a budget to fund their operations.

Yeah - I knew that (from the Antiquities Act) but for some reason I didn't add "except for national monuments". I'm pretty sure I was thinking that at the time, but just forgot to put it in.

And my stand that site addition to the NPS isn't free from political pressures still stand. There's tons of pressures on sitting presidents to declare national monuments.

Hell no. Really? Are you serious with this question? I didn't expect to see such an anti-Parks idea floated on this website.

@Y P W:

National Monuments do not require Congressional approval to be established. However, they do require Congress to pass a budget to fund their operations.


And I agree with the poster who said that all $ collector for park entrances should go to the NPS and not into the general federal coffers. (I don't know how it is currently handled, but that makes sense)

Actually - that is how it's currently handled. According to the current law, at least 80% of the entrance fees or site-specific annual pass revenues stays at that site and the rest goes back to the agency. Apparently any interagency pass sold at a unit stays within the agency that sold it - whether it's the NPS, BLM, Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife, or Bureau of Reclamation - although I hear all of it goes into the particular agency's general funds and not the unit's general funds. I remember one article on the Traveler that detailed that the NPS had the overwhelming majority of interagency pass revenues. I'm not quite sure how they divvy up the revenue from other sales sources. The USGS sells the interagency passes online. It also doesn't appear that AAA is selling the new passes. I remember they used to offer the older National Parks Pass for $48.

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