Budgeting Woes Likely To Hit The National Park Service

With the U.S. House of Representatives, if not the entire Congress, determined to shrink the federal deficit as quickly as politically feasible, expect the National Park Service to take a pretty good hit.

Figures released by the House Appropriations Committee last week identified a $51 million cut in the Park Service's budget, and when President Obama's FY12 budget proposal comes out this week it very likely will show a decrease in the agency's funding.

With an overall budget of around $2.2 billion, $51 million might not seem like much, but remember that the Park Service has a maintenance backlog of about $9 billion, so any cut could be tough to handle.

According to the World Socialist Web Site, the president's budget will reduce the Park Service's construction budget and feature "reductions in battlefield preservation grants, Native American Graves Protection Act grants, and Heritage Area funds for the National Park Service."

With that writing on the wall, at least one park advocacy group, Friends of Acadia, is trying to rally public support to lobby Congress on behalf of the parks.

Specifically, the friends group is warning that cuts in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund could jeopardize efforts to buy a 37-acre tract with the boundaries of Acadia National Park.

Friends of Acadia and Maine Coast Heritage Trust have been working together to protect 37 acres of undeveloped land on Lower Hadlock Pond, to hold them until Acadia National Park can obtain funding to acquire the lands in February 2012. These undeveloped lands are within the Acadia’s boundary and important to the park because several trails traverse the parcel and the pond is important habitat for birds and aquatic species. Additionally, the lands help preserve the watershed for Mount Desert’s water supply.

Acadia National Park needs $2.35 million in order to purchase the entire 37 acres for inclusion in the park. President Obama’s FY 2011 budget included $1.76M for this project, and all four members of Maine’s delegation supported the project. However, Congress is operating under a continuing resolution through March 4, 2011, and has not yet taken action on the FY 2011 Interior Appropriations Bill. The House of Representatives recently released its FY 2011 appropriations recommendations, reducing LWCF levels to $348M, which would jeopardize the FY 2011 funding for Lower Hadlock Pond in Acadia. Please contact your Representatives today to encourage them to fully fund LWCF, including the $1.76 million for Acadia that was in President Obama’s FY 2011 budget.

To write to members of Congress, please visit: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml.

Meanwhile, over at Defenders of Wildlife, President Rodger Schlickeisen doesn't deny the need for fiscal control in Washington. But he does question some of the choices being made.

"The public should be able to trust Congress to demonstrate a sense of fairness and rationality in the cutting process. The House leadership’s Continuing Resolution proves otherwise," he said in a statement released Saturday. "Vital programs that keep our air and water clean and protect our wildlife and public lands have been axed while massive subsidies for big international oil corporations remain in place. Where’s the sense in that?

“It’s clear that the House leadership’s budget-cutting zeal is confined to programs that they oppose on ideological grounds, including environmental protection," continued Mr. Schlickeisen. "Unwarranted taxpayer subsidies for the biggest special interests are left untouched. Stewardship of our nation’s magnificent and unique natural heritage should rank far above fiscal handouts to the favored undeserving, but apparently not in the minds of this House leadership. If they have their way, future generations will have to pay for not only an enormous budget deficit but also a lost natural legacy. ”

Among the cuts he questioned were those aimed at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, efforts to maintain water flows into California's Bay Delta, and federal protection of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains.

“Do the American people want cuts? Yes," said the Defenders president. "Decimation of our precious environment and natural resources? No. Clearly, the new House majority is using the Continuing Resolution as an opening salvo in an extremely broad and dangerous attack on our country’s most important environmental safeguards. We can only expect the proposals to get worse when the measure comes before the full House.”

Comments

Fun game - Guess which Republican will be the first one to say the President's budget is "dead on arrival."

Even the sharpest reduction of Federal spending will make little difference overall -- the only thing DC could have done toward realistically reducing the deficit was to rescind the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy. And they didn't do that. So we're stuck with this Kabuki theater of cutting back Federal programs in a pretense that it will make a difference. It will not.

Yes, I am certain now that the Federal Government is the most efficient, cost effective, completely devoid of fraud or ill-intent and knows supremely what is best for us. There is so much evidence out there that supports this minority movement.
Get real if that's not to much of a threat:). In most mammals the weaning process takes effect before age one. There are a few exceptions (elephants). This natural cycle has sustained life since the beginning but seems to be rapidly disappearing in the minds of children, their parents, officials that think the old, stressful, not much fun, passage through life is a out of fashion.
There is a correction going on and while we escape to these great places (National Parks) escape isn't the answer to the ever growing larger problem that could, if it's allowed to play out, destroy the golden goose. That is my concern and I believe a humbling by what we are facing in the big picture is the only way to secure the real greatness of these places and how they contribute to the health, joy and strength of Americans and those foreigners that come to visit.

There is a lot of "fat" in the NPS budget and it is time to get rid of it. Back to basices and focues on the mission of "Service" in Park Units. Also, time to get rid of some of the junk Congress has given us over that last 30 yrs. We need a "Park Closing Commisison" to rid the US tax payers for runing what at best are State Parks.

Just a short mention of the John F. Kennedy tax cuts and the Ronald Reagun tax cuts. It would appear that they had much more in common ( real stimulus for one) with resultant success with the economy and on the World stage. Just something noteworthy, I thought.

MORE PARKS (for the masses), LESS PORK (for the hyper-rich and the military-industrial complex). May as well put in my partisan two cents.

Budget cuts are something that everyone has to take an equal share of if we are going to reduce the deficit and get back to living within our means. But to really tackle the deficit cuts are only half the answer, they must be supported with the creation of more jobs and stimulus to the economy.

The back log in Maintenence is due to the superintendents of parks taking money for projects and spending it elsewhere.......It`s called bad management !!!!!!!
There is alot of fat in the park service.New computers every year ,cell phones ,and people hired that are never at work or do nothing when they are at work..
This may not br the case in alot of parks but I do know one this happens at..
Parks need to be monitored closer. The management needs to be monitored to see where the money goes and keep a close eye on management over-all.

Like the rest of nation. If NPS can't be grateful for what they have, cut away starting at the top. Fat salaries and perks don't go hand in hand with quality character and performance. A very good case can be made that it's just the opposite. Culture thing I suppose.
Have a Happy Grateful Thanksgiving

I've been reading Tom Brokaw's new book, "The Time of Our Lives." It should be required reading for all Americans. At least for those who care . . . .

Please go get a copy and start reading.

"For those that care?" You're starting to sound like the candidate from Texas , Lee. Don't think you have the "Care" brand all to yourself. Lots of spoiled and disenfranchised kids out there that had "careing parents or the war on poverty (careing people)." Careing doesn't, in itself, solve anything and can do quite the opposite.

Which is why you obviously don't care, anon?

I felt like you when I was young and thought I was superman. As I grew up, saw more people bleed as a result of conservative non-caring [which IS how it is spelled], I grew a conscience.

There is so much fat elsewhere in the government that could be cut before the NPS. Let's start with the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, then move on to Congressional perks.

[[[ and on a totally non-sequitur chuckle, "Relief Underalls" was a marvelous Captcha ]]]

Great talking points, Rick! You're right, conservatives just want to starve children and kill old people, lol. Who's coming up with the death panels by the way. Don't think you'd have a beer with me with your intolerance.
Happy and grateful Thanksgiving blessings to everybody,
Adios

You badmouth "careing" [sic], and then declare me intolerant for noticing what you said. Sorry - you don't get victimhood on this one.

I don't drink, but if you show up here in Alaska I'll buy you a beer and me a cup of coffee and we can chat. Tolerance is a two-way street.

Y'all have a nice Thanksgiving out there.

Thanks for caring, Rick B.

With all due respect for you both, the careing image has been used in Politics so much that it needs serious examination. As long as their words make you feel cared for is all that's needed in many cases while some having real answers to the endemic problems get labeled as "uncareing." The image of all those people standing on their rooftops and dead bodies floating after Katrina while the busses sat in the parking lots is an extreme but appropriate example of results of careing politicians pervading the idea that they and their party are the party of careing. The victims had become dependent and paid the price. There are talking points around that of course, blame Bush but that, in my eyes is just more of the "uncaring" PR which is alive and well today. I say all these things as respectfully as I can because the political discourse has gotten so ugly and hurtful to what's best, I believe, that looking at our leaders true motivations is the only way for all of us to put a stop to it. It could be said that I'm getting off topic but I have no doubts that this discourse has everything to do with how, at the top, directives go on down the chain of command in Washington that affect the Parks and everything else.
I have no doubts that you really do care about our Parks, as I hope you think the same of me.
Thanks

Rick B. You do realize that after the Bush tax RATE cuts tax revenues rose by 50% over the next 5 years while unemployment went down. Our problem is spending not tax rates.

ecbuck--

You do realize that Bush inherited a budget surplus and left a huge deficit? Bad wars will do that for you, even if they are off-budget as he and his team kept them.

Rick

To continue the thread, Rick, President Clinton is an unusually good opportunist. It can be argued quite well that after two years of his administration the mid-terms happened and after 40 years his party lost both the House and the Senate. This led to, welfare as we know it, is over, a balanced budget which led to improvement of people's plight and some undeserved bragging rights on one hand but deserved that he was able to change his direction. It could also be argued that what could have happened with control of all three branches of government as we had the first two years of this administration is something more similar to what we have than what happened back then. There is frequently more to the story than what politiicians like to crow about at building their own legacy. President Clinton is supreme at that while (If I can add some uncharacteristic snark:) "feelng your pain."

Yes Rick, I am well aware that Bush & Congress overspent. I will be the first to criticize him and them for that. Nevertheless, his tax rate cuts led to record tax receipts. The problem is spending - not revenues and its true whether it is the Republicans or Democrats doing the spending.

"The problem is spending - not revenues and its true whether it is the Republicans or Democrats doing the spending."
C'mon. This is obviously a values issue, not a pragmatic one. Whether the problem is spending or revenue--or both--depends on what you understand to be the role of government and what exactly it should spend it's money on.

No it's not a values issue. It's an economic issue of which we have plenty of evidence that capitalism beats socialism. Our "role of government" is pretty well spelled in something called the Constitution - and its primary purpose was to limit government. A document and system that built the greatest nation on earth.

A values issue? Role of government and what IT should spend IT's money on? IT's money??
Some classic examples here in your post. You could be outside the two party system here.

Seriously, ecbuck? The Constitution obviously allows for both revenue and spending. Whether the issue is too much spending or not enough revenue depends on what you imagine the role of gov't should be. There's nothing unConstitutional about disagreeing about tax rates or spending priorities.

Yes, its money. Not sure why the personal pronoun is an issue here. The gov't is elected by the people, so its money is our money , and we're always going to disagree about whether there's too much spending and/or not enough revenue. It's why we have elections.

When we Americans are reduced to quibbling over the meaning of a word like "caring," we're in trouble. It shows that we are allowing ourselves to be ruled by emotion rather than reason. The division produced by this kind of thing have paralyzed our entire country.

One more good example of why we all need to sit down, take a few deep breaths, and start thinking and reasoning together. As long as we are shouting at one another there will be no solutions available.

Another example of why everyone should thoughtfully read Tom Brokaw's book.

Just to inject a little reality into the discussion, the Bush tax cuts did in fact decrease revenue (i'm sensing the emergence a new right wing myth that will be repreated endlessly by right wing personalities invited onto morning and primetime news shows. Of course, the shows anchor people will never offer a correction). The tax cuts, combined with excessive "defense" spending has created a situations where we have to begin sacrificing things that make this country great.

Of course, we don't really have to make those sacrifices. All we have to do is reduce military spending and rescind the Bush tax cuts. Even just doing one of those things would be an improvement.

Think a good project for the Left and Right Wings should be to put them on mules that I hear about going into the Grand Canyon or put them behind a raft and drag them repeatedly through Lava Falls until they get an attitude adjustment or just leave the rest of us the hell alone.
Eliminating the Bush Tax Cuts would be a huge tax increase on the the people and only serve as more of a re-election slush fund going to selected adinistration donors. You know who you are.

Oddly enough I find myself agreeing in the basics of your post, Lee. Reality is a good teacher as are the tests that are unavoidable. A humbled attitude usually always comes after facing something that is understood as something that is bigger than all our own wishes and concerns and are able to get to the point you broached. Bring on the humbling! Whatever it takes cause it's coming whether we like it or not.

Thanks, Hopeful. If we don't humble ourselve voluntarily, it will be done for us. And when that happens, it ain't a-gonna be nice.

Trouble is, the ones who cause the collapse will probably weather it just fine because they have enough wealth behind them. But for the rest of us . . . .

Anon: If you have a Cancer it's usually preferably to cut it out. The images of these Black Friday Shoppers come to mind. Just imagine what it'd be like if they were spending other peoples money. I guess we know that already, don't we.

Coyote,
I would love to see your math. Tax receipts in the year of the tax rate cuts were 1.8 trillion. 5 years later, they were 2.5 trillion. Can you explain to me how that equates to a decrease in revenue?

They might fall over dead of shock if there ever is one submitted. I could be wrong but there hasn't been a budget since he (OB) came into office . Supposed to part of the job he isn't doing according to the constitution.

Anon at 12:36 - don't know which Constitution you go by but the U.S. Constitution clearly places the responsibility of passing a budget on the U.S. Congress - not on the President. The President only proposes a budget - which President Obama has never failed to do - and on time.

not that anon: Look deep and answer me the question why the President and the Democratic Congress have not passed a budget (Dem. House, Senate, White House for two years)? I mean motivations here and not the public consumption lingo (Bush's fault or something similar). Is the dominate economic and military force in the world to be the Communist Chinese a good trade off for more wilderness designated at this point in time? Time for dismissing what you might call alarmist rants are past but evidently not for playing golf or shooting hoops for your presumed candidate. If more wilderness is your only issue and don't consider the growing collossial catastrophe on our door step, I can only wish I could plant a seed of understanding as to our situation.

Well, perhaps the openly avowed and easily seen stance of the "loyal opposition" that they will just say no and totally shank the country if that is what it takes to defeat the sitting President?

I too, wish I could only plant a seed of understanding.

Well Rick B, when the Party of Yes is the Party of Corzine of bankrupt MF Global and the missing $1.2 Billion of investor funds who a bragging VP Bieden preened that the administration went to him first to solve the country's economic problems. This is not the exception here, Rick, it's the pattern. In the history of mankind there has never been two years of spending (borrowed) money than by the Party of Yes (we can). Of course, if one is the receiver of all the bounty and cycles just a portion back into the Party of Yes coffers, everyone in the party is just peachy. Always has been some cronyism going on but what has been happening is way past spending on steroids but spending designed for a particular result and it's not prosperity for the country. I'm not much anymore on just debating for the sake of venting. It's so beyond that. So, yes Rick G, I am a part of the loyal opposition.

OK folks, enough thread drift. We're shutting off the comments to this post as they're veering too far away from the issue at hand and getting too partisan.