A tentative budget compromise reached by congressional negotiators would, if approved by the full Congress and the White House, mean some relief for the National Park Service.
Craig Obey, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the tentative deal as crafted "helps reduce the damage that the broken budgeting process has been inflicting on our national parks."
"...The budget deal opens the door for congressional appropriators to do a better job for America’s national parks, their visitors, and local economies, than has been the case in recent times, though this is not guaranteed," Mr. Obey went on in a prepared statement.
“The budget agreement, though far from perfect, is much better than maintaining the full sequester levels this year and next, and likely will result in reinstating some rangers who were cut due to the sequester."
The compromise to be put before the full House and Senate would do away with $63 billion in pending across-the-board cuts to domestic and military budgets. If approved, the deal also would remove the threat of a government shutdown in mid-January.
Still, Mr. Obey said Congress still needs to restore to the Park Service funding lost through the sequestration cuts early this year.
"...our parks likely will continue to lack the ability to restore all the rangers they lost to the sequester and other cuts, and closed signs are likely to remain at park facilities—part and parcel of a slow motion shutdown for our national parks that cannot be sustained without irreparable damage," he said. "The imposed sequester cuts left 2,000 fewer rangers to protect and manage park resources, abruptly impacting the visitor experience by closing campgrounds, visitor centers and roads.
"The budget deal restores most of sequester cuts, but does not guarantee that the congressional appropriations committees will provide the resources the parks need to put needed rangers back in our parks and begin to address the maintenance backlog."