AP Asks 'Can Parks Survive Pressure?'

I've recently discovered this article on MSNBC which looks like it was written by the Associated Press this last summer (June 20 is the date). While the article may not be new, the issues it identifies as key problem areas for the national parks are still very topical. In fact, if you've found the recent National Geographic park article informative, you may find this AP article as a good companion piece. Probably what I found the most interesting in the piece are the photos in the first article. At the top of the page is a shot of a disappearing glacier within Glacier National Park. And, if you look closely under the photo on the right side, is a link to "launch" a slide show. The slide show has 18 shots taken from around the park system which highlight very clearly some of the biggest threats to our beloved parks. Have a look.

Part 1 : Can nation's parks survive the pressure? : Inside and just outside, they are increasingly being squeezed
Even the parks' famed views of starry skies are in jeopardy. Nighttime lights, beaming from cities and towns 200 miles away from parks such as Mount Rainier in Washington state and Yosemite in California, reduce star visibility and can affect nocturnal wildlife. In urban regions, including Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California, visitors can only see a few hundred stars instead of the 8,000 that would be visible in pristine conditions.

'If there's no place that is clear and clean, if there's no place that is dark and starry, where does that leave us?' asks Chad Moore, program manager for the National Park Service's Night Sky Team. 'If we can't protect the best parts of America in national parks, then we're certainly not going to be able to protect them anywhere else.'

Part 2 : 'Juggling act' at nation's parks is not funny : Tight budgets mean cutbacks, even when it comes to toilets
Philanthropic groups spent more than $60 million on parks last year, doubling their largesse of a decade ago, said Curt Buchholtz, president of the National Parks Friends Alliance. But generosity in the tens of millions of dollars is not a panacea when billions are ultimately needed.

'The frustration we have is we are in a budgetary decline and it's harder to do operations in the field, and philanthropy is not going to be the answer to that,' said Jon Jarvis, the Park Service's Pacific West regional director.