The National Parks Conservation Association wants the U.S. government to stop cutting critical funding to national parks – and apparently many Americans agree. Earlier this week, the NPCA announced that it had garnered more than 105,000 signatures from its supporters asking Congress to put an end to budget cuts to the National Park Service, asserting that those cuts that are endangering the future of parks.
Back in May, the NPCA kicked off its National Parks Protection Project which was designed to educate members of Congress and the American public about the importance of proper funding for the national parks. When that initiative got underway, an online petition was also included, with the goal of attaining 100,000 signatures asking the government to stop slashing funding to the parks. After all, the NPCA points out, the Park Service’s budget is just one-thirteenth of one percent of the total federal budget.
For that relatively small amount of money, the national parks generate quite a return on the investment. Not only does that funding go toward protecting and promoting the most amazing park system in the world, it also has an important impact on the communities that surround those parks. It is estimated that the national parks are responsible for contributing more than $13 billion to local economies each year while also creating nearly 270,000 private-sector jobs.
Now, just over three months after the petition went online, the NPCA has not only met its goal, but exceeded it. In fact, the organization’s president, Tom Kiernan, has said “This is by far the most successful petition drive we’ve ever had – in nearly 100 years of operations – and it’s time for Congress to take notice of how many people have joined this effort.”
I tend to agree with Kiernan. The national parks are a fantastic resource and one that we need to protect for future generations to enjoy as well. Unfortunately, budget cuts have made those efforts incredibly challenging. But considering what the parks give back to us, both tangibly and intangibly, perhaps it is time to stop looking solely at the bottom line.