Updated: National Park Service Budget Would Grow by $138 Million Under President's FY12 Proposal

Editor's note: This version updates with reaction from National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan and adds remarks from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar concerning the National Park System's maintenance backlog.

President Obama's FY12 budget request, if approved by Congress, would give the National Park Service a $2.9 billion budget, an increase of nearly $138 million above current funding levels.

While the budget would slow the agency's attack on its staggering maintenance backlog, at a time when doom and gloom highlights talk around the federal budget the president seems determined to invest in the Park Service and its 394 units. Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, in a prepared statement, said investing in the country was exactly what the proposed budget does.

“Taxpayer investments in national parks result in far more than the obvious recreational and educational dividends,” said Director Jarvis. “National parks also are tremendous economic engines for their gateway communities. In 2009, park visitors spent $11.9 billion and supported 247,000 jobs.

"The budget includes tough choices to cut spending in construction and certain grant programs to address our nation’s critical budget deficit," he continued. "However, a proposed increase in investments through the Land and Water Conservation Fund will step up our commitment to states and communities, many of which are facing serious cutbacks of their own."

Among the highlights of the proposed Park Service budget:

* The overall request totals $2.9 billion, up from $2.75 billion the Park Service has been operating on under a Continuing Resolution.

* Base park operations funding would increase $39.5 million.

* It would provide $360 million for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is tapped to make land acquisitions for the National Park System.

* A $5.7 million increase, to $19.2 million, to fund youth engagement and education programs in the parks.

* $1.8 million for the U.S. Park Police operations.

* $3.2 million for cyclic maintenance and $7.5 million for repair and rehabilitation projects, two areas that can help slow the growth of the Park Service's maintenance backlog.

* $7.2 million to strengthen the Park Service's staff recruitment, training, and retention programs.

* $8 million for the Everglades Modified Water Water Deliveries project.

* $4 million towards the settlement of the North Shore Road project in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

* $61 million for the Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund.

At the same time, however, a review of the details shows a lot of red ink:

* Nearly $81 million is proposed to be cut from the Park Service's construction budget, a subtraction that would directly impact construction projects, equipment replacement, and planning.

* Both the Save America's Treasures ($25 million) and Preserve America ($4.6 million) grant programs would be zeroed out.

* Nearly $6 million in congressional earmarks targeted for projects in specific parks would be eliminated.

* Funding for Heritage Areaswould be cut by $8.8 million.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar acknowledged to reporters Monday afternoon that a freeze on new construction across the National Park System would slow efforts to reduce the Park Service's maintenance backlog, which is in the neighborhood of $8 billion.

“We have in this budget proposed what I consider to be a good investment in the National Park System. And we have made significant efforts over the last two years to cut down on that backlog, which, when I came into Interior, stood at some $9 billion. We were able to make some investments close to a billion dollars, from the (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds, and those have gone into our national park units all across the country, (and) the budgets over the last two years have allowed us to make some investments on that backlog," the Interior secretary said.

"But there’s no doubt that ... the existing backlog is in the billions of dollars. And so this will slow down the major initiative, which we’ve had under way, which has been a high priority for me, and that’s to address that backlog. We have to deal with the fiscal reality, we don’t have the money to deal with the backlog."

At the National Parks Conservation Association, President Tom Kiernan was supportive of the president's proposal.

“We’re pleased that in a challenging budget year the administration has prioritized investments in our national parks. From Yellowstone to Gettysburg, our national parks protect America’s heritage and deserve this modest investment,” Mr. Kiernan said in a statement. “We’re grateful that our national parks would have the funding they need to keep visitor centers open and park rangers on the ground. People travel from across the world to enjoy these special places, so this investment not only preserves our national heritage, but also protects jobs in communities that benefit from park tourism.”

It's doubtful, from congressional actions and discussions to date, that the budget will be warmly embraced by Congress. Already the House Appropriations Committee has targeted $51 million in cuts from the Park Service budget, and news reports have indicated some in Congress want large cuts in the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“These aren’t just difficult times, they’re serious times, and you can just feel it in the air in Washington," Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson said Monday. "So yes, we’re grateful for the budget the president has proposed. There’s still a lot that we can do. We’ll meet the mission of the Park Service."

At the NPCA, Mr. Kiernan said proposed cuts in the Park Service's budget that have been discussed in the House of Representatives were disconcerting.

"The Park Service is already underfunded with an (annual) operations shortfall of $600 million,” he said. “We’re also quite concerned with the size of the House committee cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is critical to protecting national parks from the constant threats of development.”

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War beginning to be commemorated, the budget proposal holds $10 million within the Land and Water Conservation Fund for American Battlefield Protection Grants. These grants, which require a dollar-for-dollar match with non-federal funds, go to help state and local governments and nonprofit organization partnerships purchase and protect threatened Civil War and other battlefields.

“The president’s budget will ensure that national parks continue to serve the 285 million visitors who come every year to relax in America’s great outdoors and learn about the people and places that make up America’s story,” Director Jarvis, who was unavailable for comment Monday, said in a prepared statement. “This is especially important as we prepare for the start of our second century in 2016 and begin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which we hope will bring millions of new visitors to our more than 70 civil war sites.”

Comments

Yes, it's a parallel universe that this bunch lives in. Maybe that funding should be considered a loan and be paid back, LOL! Could the end be near if this budget were to be passed? Or, is it just an effort to hold their base support knowing it can't realistically/morally be passed? Somewhere between delusional and criminal or, just the biggest/damaging con in history.

The DEBT NOW EQUALS TOTAL US ECONOMY
Should that be a concern? Let's see some hands!
Is NPS concerned enough, at all?

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/feb/14/debt-now-equals-total-us-economy/

I would be for a budget increase for our National Parks, EXCEPT, can't do that while Superintendent Murray is proposing that users such as myself of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area be additionally restricted from using the resource in a manner which has been the custom for many decades. Furthermore, we would be asking the residents and businesses of Cape Hatteras to contribute more in support of the NPS while NPS in turn is systematically destroying their ability to pay the taxes required to fund this budget item. I do not live in Cape Hatteras nor do I own or participate in a business in Cape Hatteras. If I feel this strongly concerning this matter, I can only imagine how they feel.

Ron (obxguys)

Nearly $81 million is proposed to be cut from the Park Service's construction budget, a subtraction that would directly impact construction projects. These aren't just difficult times, they're serious times, and you can just feel it when looking for a construction job. It's great news that the National Park Service budget would grow by $138 Million with the President's new proposed budget . I don't care how we recover from the economic recession I just know we have to. Substantial government-funded construction projects help drive recovery.

Stimulate and quit demonizing private sector! That would drive the economy and construction in the big picture not borrowing money from the Chinese to build restrooms, visitor centers and anything else that's nice but necessary unless you want to bring back the CCC to rebuild the work ethic and not the entitlement mentality. :)

Increasing the National Park Service budget -- and expanding the National Park System -- is one of the best investments we can make. It will create more jobs, protect irreplaceable natural and historic treasures, and offer Americans affordable family vacations. We should be spending even more, but this is a positive step. This will still represent a tiny portion of the budget.

The least legitimate argument against spending on national parks is the national debt. On that subject, what Paul Krugman wrote a year ago still holds true today:

Fiscal Scare Tactics
By PAUL KRUGMAN
The New York Times
February 4, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/opinion/05krugman.html

As for cutting government programs, why don't those who are so worried about the deficit talk about major cuts in the Pentagon budget? We are spending more now on the military than when we faced the Soviet Union or during the Vietnam War -- more than the rest of the world put together. We could chop 25 percent off that bloated budget and still be spending way more than any other country. President Eisenhower was absolutely right about the "military-industrial complex."

Man, this is scary. So who's going to be able to afford to take a vacation and visit the Parks if they don't have jobs? I guess the Governmental Environmental Complex that owes it's existence to the taxes collected from the private sector. KRUGMAN'S on CRACK but he's not alone! It would be educational to go to Dicken's "Christmas Carol" imaging and view what's in store for us if this path is not STOPPED. The figures are beyond anything anyone could have imagined in a responsible society. If only the outcome in the present "Christmas Carol" episode be as good but Scrooge HAS to wake up!

Is it required that (critics) use CAPS to EMPHASIZE their ... opinions? Hey, Krugman has both a Nobel prize and a solid command of English. If you're just going to deliver unfounded rants, at least switch to lower case... .

This comment was edited to remove gratuitous attacks. The underlying point was not altered-- Ed.

Anonymous, you not only seem to know nothing about how the economy works, but you contradict yourself.

The private sector, that created the economic collapse and manipulated the politics at the same time by political money to eliminate essential regulation, is now sitting on billions and billions of dollars and not investing it or growing business in the US. The reason they have any money at all is the federal government propped up the economy and their business, particularly the Fed. Without that, their money would be gone or worthless, and the George Bush and the Congress when they did the bailout had every reason to assume (unfortunately without resorting to coersion) if the businesses were saved they would continue to invest.

You cannot say BOTH that the money is coming from Chinese investment/bond purchases AND say the money for the government programs is coming from taxes. If, as you said earlier, it is coming from purchasing of US bonds by foreign countries, then a significant amount of that WILL generate growth and WILL thereby generate increased tax revenue. Many government programs ALSO generate an expanded economy and lead to increased tax revenues.

The amount of taxes as a percentage of the economy is less than half what it was during World War II, when it was over 40 %. No one thought that was irresponsible, and it did not devastate the economy. Instead, as a result, the American economy expanded rapidly. When you consider that military expenditures are not even a great way to generate expansion, because much of the weaponry does nothing productive.

The parks, and especially programs like Heritage Areas and Save America's treasures may not generate as much expansion as some infrastructure projects, electric grid, or education programs, but they are more helpful to the economy that the military and many other public and private programs. Over $50 billion typically comes into the United States each year from international tourists who during their trip visit national parks. And that just goes to balance of payments; parks generate many other economic plusses as well. Not bad for a park service that costs around $3 billion.

You seem to think money spent is money gone. Money does not work that way. In fact, there is a well document multiplier effect that the RIGHT kind of expenses expand the economy, and pay for themselves. Already, most of the areas receiving the bailout have not only been paid back, but generated a profit.

Just chanting angry talking points will not make your points true. As Abraham Lincoln knowingly said, 'You can't fool all the people all the time."

What we are dealing with now is the most rapidly expanding divide between the extraordinarily rich and the rest. Many of these billionairs want to give back as little as possible to the Nation that enabled them to make so much money, but they are happy to spend to block regulation and to manipulate the courts and the poltical system. Including, elections. These people have many trillions of dollars more than the entire federal budget, and are a much larger drag on the economy when they take their money overseas and do not invest it in America than any US tax bill. American corporations pay less in taxes as a percentage of income than in any other developed nation in the world. The tax rates are irrelevant to them, because NO ONE in corporate america pays the rate, because of rigged deductions. In the meantime, their infrastructure is supported by the US government programs, and government regulations actually protect corporations from liability because one of the main point of such regulations today, alas, is to limit liability for corporations.

Your economic "analysis" has nothing to do with the facts, or what the squawking about deficits really is all about. The object now is to bankrupt the government, eliminate essential government programs and regulations so that a very small percentage of americans can walk away with unearned billions.

Thank you, d-2 for saying it far better than I could. And yes, Anonymous, you are right that "this is scary." What is scary is that there are millions of well-intentioned Americans such as yourself, who have fallen for the pernicious economic propaganda put out by self-serving big corporations and their political handmaidens -- including the scaremongering about the deficit.

Michael and D-2

An altered reality is pretty much opinion thoughts of your comments. Business is the villain here? Bush? Oh, yes Bush did it. Republicans want to starve children and kill old people, yes that's it! I agree that Bush did attempt to have Freddie and Fanny Mae to kick old people and children out of houses that they could not afford. Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer and the far left Congress that you obviously support would not allow it which eventually did lead those same old and young people being kicked out of their house but only after causing a WORLD meltdown and sticking the taxpayers with unbelievable debt and it's being double downed on. 70-80% tax rate is a REALISTIC possibility with the world coming apart without a strong US (weakness is a provocation).
I'm rejecting the one attempt of a compliment from you. "Well intentioned "is more associated with the political correct crowd and has grown to be the ultimate "mind set" that gives cover to chronically deluded or just plane failing attitudes. Of coarse, nothing personal is intended here but I just don't accept the premise of what's happening and where we are headed.
Okay, what are your solutions?

I don't support left OR right -- I support POLICIES and ACCURATE FACTS. Anyone who has supported the NPS for long knows some of the best friends to parks and the environment have been Republicans, and there were Democratic Administrations and officials who hurt the parks.
i think Bush did what he had to do when it all came down to the collapse of the economy. The government stepped in and -- just check your facts on this Anonymous ! -- and it is still true with notable exceptions the business community is not rising to the occasion. Compare that to JP Morgan in the Panic in the 1890's ! Or Pete Peterson in the 1980's ! As far as Fanny and Freddie, the recent commission to analyze the fall of the economy has all the facts in one place and it is clear it was not caused by Fanny or Freddie. Only ONE commissioner thought so ! And HE was abandoned by the other Republicans on this. The facts do not support it. Many of the people who were caught in the melt down with morgages representing more than 1/3 of their income would not have gone down had the whole economy gone down. There but for fortune go you, go I. We could be next, through no fault of our own. On the other hand, there were REAL fraudulent loans issued by the financial community, nothing to do with Freddy and Fannie. People went into baloon loans even though they did not need them or think they were getting them, because the morgage guys working for the larger morgage and finance giants had more to gain by exposing lower middle class people to these fradulent loans.

government policy was being pushed much more by those financial power houses, much more than the elected officials you cite. And, Republicans were as much part of it as Democrats. But they all were weak, but they didn't think up these ideas. WALL STREET DID, and they intimidate elected officials into supporting them. If you do not know what is going on these days, no elected official can stay in office if they completely disregard the control these giants have over the political process. Look what happened to the author of the McCain Feingold act trying to get rid of corruption in elections. Feingold is no longer Senator: they nailed him. And Sen McCain is keeping a very low profile these days, on issues he used to speak clearly on.

But the real thing was the high ratings put on the negotiable securities of these bundled morgages. They were rated AAA, not junk, and ultimately that is why the economy fell. With the loans alone for lower middle class families, clean loans that is, there would have been no collapse.

Only morons like FOX news try to set up a few government fall guys like Sen. Schumer and then try to blame it all on them. As the late Senator Moynihan once said, "you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to YOUR OWN FACTS !"

What really distinguishes comments, opinions and purported facts is the character of their proponents. If you instantly go to demeaning tactics directed at people personally there most usually playing fast and loose with the truth and are called out. There is so much that totally dominates the airways with what can only be described as a CON at worst and youthful naivete at best. The 60's are long past and can only hope that reality has the effect that it intends. Fox News and fall guys? That's laughable with the decades old unbecoming demonization of George Bush, Conservative Women and reality in general is really not effective anymore because eventually "untruths" appear just that when reality appears with crystal clarity.
Reality in the mortgage business? President Bush MANY times attempted to rein in the simmering mortgage crisis. At that time Liberal Democrats including Barney Frank as Congressman overseeing this very issue said, "It's fine, not a problem." For what reason is conjecture. Maybe on his death bed he'll confess his sins but I'm not counting on it the way character is honored in that body (Congress).
It takes awhile but the "well intentioned" effort on the outside of a goal of everyone owning a home while on the inside people were making fortunes with the path set by "everyone gets a home PR gimmick" has set the world on it's head. Good business practices would not allow giving money to people that can't pay it back unless it was supported by the government, Fanny and Freddie who guaranteed the loans.
I'm trying to bring you along fairly gently here. I appreciate the emotion the way I like Susan Sarandon but dismiss her politics, LOL!

Anonymous (not verified),

You have not yet presented any facts to back up your argument that we should be panicking about the deficit. The fact is, we have had larger deficits in the past -- larger proportionately than today -- and we have grown our way out of them. President Clinton inherited a huge deficit and by the end of his term we had a huge surplus. That turnaround was not caused by massive cuts in federal spending, but instead by some spending cuts along with tax increases and increased spending on federal programs that created jobs and stimulated the economy.

A lot of things have contributed to today's deficit. The Bush tax cuts and unfunded wars (which Obama has continued, though at least he includes them in the budget) are the single largest part of the problem. A lack of adequate regulation of the financial sector set us up for the worst Wall Street abuses. The economy is in bad shape, and there is plenty of fault to dole out -- that is not my point.

My point is that there is nothing but speculation to back the apocalyptic predictions of national bankruptcy and need for draconian spending cuts that today's deficit alarmists are spreading. The main proponents of this view are people who have always been against a large federal government, who believe that cutting taxes stimulates the economy and increases federal revenues, and who never supported Social Security and are jumping at the opportunity to slash or do away with it (even though they know full well that it has no impact whatsoever on the deficit). Forgive me if do not consider the deficit hawks to be credible advocates for a healthy economy.

My original point was that spending on our National Park System is a job-creating, economically positive thing to do. Cutting the NPS is short-sighted and counterproductive. I believe that is especially true when the basic arguments for the proposed massive cuts in federal spending are simply not based in fact. I am happy to acknowledge any facts that prove me wrong.

A little history on Clinton's success. Never one to deny credit for someone else's labors, shaming the office and setting a poor example for the young by setting a new low in behavior (and making it acceptable), Clinton arrived on scene as the economy was turning around on it's own. Two years in after the mid-terms after the public saw the direction under his leadership after 40 years his party lost both the House and the Senate. Ever the opportunist, he embraced "the end of welfare as we know it" and yielded to a conservative direction. It was Congress who held the purse strings that carried the water here and the country benefited. That's one.
There are actions that encourage the idea of investing that typically, civil service employed people don't have in their genes. People that are willing to take risk need at least a little bit of encouragement. They have to see a possibility of profit to take the risk. Cutting taxes is PROVEN to encourage the taking of risk (investments). Reagan greatly cut taxes and encouraged economic activity, letting people keep more of their money and brought the country out of the Carter malaise and it's 20+ interest rates. That's two.
We are talking about NPS Construction Projects that have to be cut back after a banner year last year while there is a real war on our border here in Arizona with better than 22,000 murders (beheadings) including Americans civilians and officers. Terrorists that mean to do us harm are pretty much able to enter at will as only 15% of the border is secured but there is more interest to look on Habib as a future Democratic Voter. I believe that we all might benefit by experiencing a bit of discomfort (not about me). Many have sacrificed in a very real sense throughout our history but I don't believe sacrificing for what this bunch is asking will only end in tragedy and disappointment. That's three:).

Man, this is some heavy stuff. I'm not being funny. I'm not sure if everyone is right or everyone is wrong or if we should call it a draw.
I do know that when you begin to politicise anything you are not going to win nor will you lose. You probably won't do anything. So, the best thing to do is get past that. We have had some good Republicans in every office and some good Democrats in every office. In fact, weren't the Republicans actually Democrats at one time or was it the other way around. Anyway< I think there is plenty of blame to go around and the mess we are in can be traced back many decades. these things don't happen overnight or result from the actions of a few people. We all know that. And the funny thing is, We won't really know what really happened or what real effect it has for another decade. Then you will hear a lot of "well, I'll be damned".
So, what are we going to do in the mean time? I say we put aside all the name blame, hatred, lies, science and opinions and come up with solutions. SOMETHING THAT WORKS. What do you say ?

Ron (obxguys)

Ha! You want to go on a Mule Ride? Heard from my guide that anything can be solved by putting everyone on a mule and head into the Canyon. I believe he's right!
Catch you later:).

Anonomous, this is silly. Now Barney Frank is responsible.

You want facts: how about you just read the financial crisis inquiry commission report? Check out, when you see all the facts, how empty your arguments are. And it is not as if one of the commissioners did not argue your points, he did and the facts annihilate his, what turns out to be, ideological arguments.

Fanny and Freddie did not cause it. It would not have happened only due to Fanny and Freddie. True, the loose credit policies DID mean that when it unraveled, it really unraveled. But most of these people never needed to lose their homes

It is not so many pages long that you can't read it in two days. Here is the link:

http://www.fcic.gov/report

Personally, I do think the US deliberately loosened credit and rules on banks in an attempt to reverse the impacts on New York and the enconomy due to the events of September 11, 2001. However, the report also takes that point of view apart. And, I think the minority is wrong to say "no one caused this."

Read it. It will be good for you ! It is an impressive accumulation of facts.

Hi Anonymous (not verified),

I agree with Ron Saunders that this is getting out of hand. You clearly are witnessing many of the same things that I am, but often coming to diametrically opposed conclusions. That is your right, and there is nothing to be gained in arguing forever.

However, what we do seem to have in common is an affinity for national parks. If so, that is a good thing.

Take care.

Well, Michael, Ron, D-2, there is an obvious divide in how we see things which I understand and really don't have a problem with as we all have different life experiences. What's fun is to be in the specter of these great places (NP's ) and it not be about any of it. Bigger than us and puts us beyond self, from what I've seen. Lots can be accomplished in that kind of climate. OK, given that we aren't together in any of those great places (I am at least) we'll just have to be in a respectful conversation that could be kinda fun.
Can you answer this question?
Without naming names and getting defensive make the case that Liberal/Progressive policies have not had the most negative long term repercussions on the cultural and economic stability of this country. Our present state of things being the result.

I'm looking to do something different if what we have is the result. :).

This is a prime example of funding with borrowed money from the Chinese whether it's the Parks, SEIU Pension Funds or any deficit spending.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110217/bs_nm/us_wiki_china_treasury

Try trading in Krugman for Kudlow.

Sorry, I didn't look any farther that finding out who was on the committee. I knew what the outcome would be:).

Respectfully

Hi Anonymous (not verified),

I don't dispute that both liberals have shared in helping to cause our current economic problems. But I would argue that most of the things liberals have done wrong involved shifting toward the conservative or corporate end of the spectrum. In my estimation, the biggest things causing our economic problems are conservative- and corporation-driven: huge unfunded tax cuts -- especially for the rich, unnecessary wars and bloated military spending, slashed government regulations -- especially of big corporations and banks, the corporate dominance of political campaigns, union busting, resistance to any real health care reform (and efforts to repeal even the wimpy "Obamacare" reforms), resistance to renewable energy and efforts to address climate change.

The issue of our indebtedness to the Chinese is a symptom of this conservative shift. It was predicted and decried more by liberal economists than by conservative economists. I don't remember conservatives like Kudlow vehemently complaining about this when Republicans ran things. You may remember that it was Dick Cheney who said, "Deficits don't matter." Again, I think the major liberal mistake has been to cave in too much to the conservatives on these issues.

A big part of the problem is that much of what is now considered "conservative" would be considered far-right extremism before Reagan started shifting the goal post. And what is now considered "socialist" was once mainstream, even among many Republicans. Republicans such as Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford, who were not at all considered "liberal" in their day would now be considered "socialists" and booted out by today's ultra-conservative Republican Party. That's what happened to a number of mainstream Republican incumbents in the last election, such as Mike Castle in Delaware. The few responsible and moderate Republicans left in any positions of authority are silent, because they are deathly afraid (for good reason) of being defeated by the Tea Party.

Best regards.

Hey Michael,

I wish we were in proximity. A beer summit would be especially interesting...and fun. The best part of this, while there're diverse opinions, reality eventually raises it's head above the scholarly debates.

With the mention of "responsible and moderate Republicans" they do have their counterparts on the other side of the isle of which they were mostly cleansed from the party (Demo) by 111th Congress's actions. Actually (I think) it's not the time to be spineless and operate in purely political/agenda based arguments where the great majority of the public gets hammered.

As to your references to Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford as socialists (I don't think so:). The present day person that's channeling of one of the most popular Democratic Presidents (John F. Kennedy) is Republican Paul Ryan. What appears to be happening using that comparison is John F. Kennedy pitched in battle against the ultra Liberal wing of his own party, leaving the Republicans out of it completely.

These discussions, although seemingly diverging from the great news that NPS funding would grow in the President's new budget proposal (everyone would like more money), it would most definitely push us farther toward a so far unimaginably dire result.
I don't think the President expects the budget to pass. He's covered his political bases and either gets what he wants and the country gets screwed (nothing unusual or he lets the Republicans take the lead and make the hard choices that reality would suggest while taking away what we've grown to consider, entitlements.

Bless the country and the Parks, they are one and the same:).

Beer summit?

Thanks Michael

I and my wife have visited over 70% of our National Parks (NP) over the last 50 years or so. First, just sleeping on cots in the open air, then in tents. Later, as our income improved, we began using travel trailers and currently are planning a month long visit to Theordore Roosevelt NP in North Dakota, taking in all the adjacent parks on the way.
Concern: I would like to use last year's visit to Big Bend National Park as an example of lost revenue to the park system. The park provides a very large and wonderful area to be used by those setting up tents or for RV's who don't desire service hookup such as sewage or water to the camp site. Additionaly, the NPS provides "full hookup" camping on a very small. very hot, very ugly black top area. As a result we, like most others with RVs, stay outside the park in a privately owned facility with full hookups. We pay on the average $35 per night in private parks and are happy to do so. The thousands upon thousands of RV owners who visit the NPs do likewise. Most, if not all, that revenue is lost to the NPS. If the private sector can own and operate RV parks and make a profit doing so, why shouldn't the NPS do likewise?
The campers who pay $7.00 per night to tent camp won't be effected as they already enjoy the best areas in our parks. I realize there would be a hew and cry by the private RV park owners who currently hang around outside the parks selling their accommodations at prices often considered exorbinate. Their services are still better than offered by the park system. If the NPS would begin operating more like a business rather than a philanthropic organization, it could make enough of a profit to support the upkeep of our greatest treasures.
Solution: 1) Do away with free cards for seniors (we are seniors and willing to contribute to our parks). 2) charge at least $18 per night for tent camping. 3)Construct user friendly RV parks throughout the NP system and charge a reasonable fee ($25-$35) per night for the priviledge of staying in some of the greatest places on earth. 4) Guard your profits- the politiicans would strip you dry if they find money they can use for their personal agendas.

Actions have consequences, Mr. Kellett and it's only going to get worse unless we get on board. A correction please.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.ae2d2f54b4997246bb7b180d2736bac1.e1&show_article=1

I certainly agree with your sentiment about the Parks. And beer summit idea sounds good. The logistics could be a bit difficult. But maybe we will be in the same vicinity at some point and can make it happen!

Best,
Michael

Hi Reality Check,

I don't question the reality of the debt to China or the fact that the deficit is not good. But it is not a dire crisis, either. The Chinese are not going to call in that debt, because they need us as much as we need them. That said, I would rather not be in debt than to be in debt to them.

My point is that dramatically cutting public spending on socially beneficial programs and on public jobs will not seriously reduce the deficit. It will eliminate a lot of jobs and reduce tax revenues, making matters worse. The idea that leaving those funds in private hands will create jobs is a fantasy. If that were so, we would have lots of jobs already, with tax rates at historic lows and corporate profits at historic highs.

If the Republicans were really serious about deficit reduction, they would not have demanded a continuation of tax breaks for the very rich, they would support the Obama health care bill (despite its flaws, it would save billions each year), they would advocate serious cuts for the Pentagon, they would end offshore tax breaks for big business, and they would stop pretending that Social Security has anything to do with the deficit. They are doing the opposite.

My point is that the best way to rein in the deficit is the same way it has been done before -- economic growth. Slashing the federal budget is not going to stimulate growth -- it's going to undermine it. We should be pumping federal money directly into job creation -- things like a new CCC, transportation infrastructure repair and expansion, etc. This would not only create jobs, but also benefit our National Parks, among other things.

Best,
Michael

Michael,
The Chinese are not our friends and they may not call in our debt. They are already changing our policy by their leverage. They want to dominate us. They are playing us like the idiots we are.
There's a basic disconnect of many that haven't been in the marketplace and what drives investors. There are obstacles and there is encouragement at work. Tax cuts have proven over and over that they encourage by letting you keep more of your money and you spend. You do a better job of it than government. I don't mean to lecture but it's true. If some more in the poor or middle class broke free of their thinking on this many would advance and become Republicans, LOL! Certainly more complicated than this but I like the simplicity.
I'm going for the bottle opener right now. My favorite doesn't come with twist caps :).

Hi Reality Check,

Of course, I would like to keep as much of my earnings as I can. But there is no evidence that tax cuts benefit jobs or the economy. On the contrary, the economy was doing much better during the 1950s and 1960s when federal taxes were much higher than they are today.

What we do know is that cutting taxes increases the deficit. That is why George H.W. Bush agreed to raise taxes that had been recklessly cut under the Reagan administration.

Of course, we could slash the federal budget, as the Republicans are trying to do. But there is plenty of evidence that this is a really bad idea. Today's New York Times has a column on just that issue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/business/economy/23leonhardt.html

Best,
Michael

I want my vote (for Obama) back: "Both the Save America's Treasures ($25 million) and Preserve America ($4.6 million) grant programs would be zeroed out." THEY ARE NOT THE SAME PROGRAM, they are not redundant. Gads can he read?

Stop supporting wars and support our national parks. Does anyone realize that cutting the NPS budget cuts jobs both in the park and many small businesses that service the parks, and then there are all the small businesses outside the parks that benefit when tourist visit the parks. I am so annoyed with this --

This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous remark about the president.--Ed.

It's NOT the private sector the one being demonized. It's the demons in the private sector the ones being demonized! How exactly does the private sector drive the economy? It's the public the one that drives it. The private sector is a sales operation, not one that invests in the community. There's a Ralphs Market just across from where I live, and in the 10 years I've been here, I've yet to see them come out and repair the neighborhood roads full of potholes as a result of the constant traffic of trucks stocking their shelves. What are they waiting for? A favor from the state infrastructure authority?

RE: JONMOInteresting statements. Would like to know what school of economics your theories are from. With the charity deduction being eliminated I guess you might be right that government will be the only ones that choose which charities will be funded. You gotta look way past the rhetoric to see what the end game is gang and it's NOT pretty. Respectfully

first off, you are right about the the bombs. you are insane if you think the nat park can mange its lands. they are on a buying spree for resources, appearing to cater to the selfish interests of a select group. come visit quinault this summer, that might change your mind. or even contact me private!

We just returned from a NE trip through Shenandoah National Park, and the drive encompasses about 100 miles of scenic beauty. The charge is $15 and we would have paid more for the experience. The outrage is that when we drove in there was no one on duty and the sign said "Pay on Way Out." We saw hundreds of cars and MC and hikers...on the ay out there was no one in the booth and a sign said "Keep Going." Thousands of dollars not collected during peak vacation days in August....just like the Post Office and AMTRAK..gross mismanagement and waste of our resources! Disgraceful!