New Environment California Research & Policy Center Analysis Details Impacts of Budget Cuts to Beloved Parks
Environment California Research & Policy Center
San Francisco – As Congress approaches another deadline on the federal budget, a new Environment California Research & Policy Center analysis entitled Death by a Thousand Cuts exposes the challenges facing California’s National Parks as a result of mounting funding cuts to the National Park Service.
“At Golden Gate National Recreation Area, budget cuts have forced the superintendent to close visitor centers several days a week, reduce trash collection, and delay repairs on buildings, roads, and trails,” said Nathan Weaver, Preservation Advocate with Environment California. “We don’t want a death by a thousand cuts for Golden Gate National Recreation Area or California’s National Parks.”
Golden Gate National Recreation Area is home to 24 endangered or threatened species according to the National Park Service. This is the fourth largest assemblage of protected species within the National Park Service. Visitors to Golden Gate National Recreation Area have been enjoying opportunities for hiking, camping, kite-boarding, or just taking in the region’s beauty and rich history since 1972. Over 14 million people visit Golden Gate each year.
Parks closures during last fall’s government shutdown capped off the third straight year in which Congress cut funding to the National Park Service’s operating budget. Additional cuts from the March 2013 sequester make for a 13 percent reduction in funding for our parks in today’s dollars over this period.
Death by a Thousand Cuts gives concrete examples of how California’s 33 National Parks, National Seashores, monuments, recreation areas, and historic sites have been affected by the funding cuts.
- $7.5 million was cut from the budget for the 33 National Park Service units in California.
- Sequester cuts forced Point Reyes National Seashore to close a visitor center, close the Point Reyes Lighthouse for one additional day per week, and reduce the number of evening lighthouse programs from 16 to 6.
- At Manzanar National Historic Site, the sequester cuts led to a budget reduction of $65,000 dollars. This forced the park superintendent to shorten hours at the site’s interpretive center throughout the summer season.
“California’s National Parks are treasures to the world and it’s our responsibility to forever preserve the best of our state,” said Robert Hanna, park advocate and great-great-grandson of John Muir. “We need to protect and invest in these beautiful places so that they’re there for all future generations to enjoy.”
“Let’s give our parks a fresh start in 2014,” added Weaver. “If we continue on this path, our grandchildren could be forced to explore parking lots and fracking wells instead of river valleys and mountaintops.”
While the budget deal passed in December may allow for some increase in the National Parks budget, it is up to congressional spending committees to decide the actual funding levels this month.
“We urge Congressman Jared Huffman to continue standing up for places like Golden Gate National Recreation Area and California’s National Parks by ensuring they’re provided the full funding they desperately need during the upcoming budget negotiations,” Weaver concluded. “California park lovers are counting on it.”
Environment California Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces through research, public education, outreach and organizing. For more information, visit www.EnvironmentCaliforniaCenter.org.