Chattahoochee National Recreation Area and Beyond: Underfunded, Under Threat

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New Environment Georgia Research and Policy Center Analysis Details Impacts of Budget Cuts to Beloved Parks

Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center

Atlanta– As Congress approaches another deadline on the federal budget, a new Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center analysis, entitled Death by a Thousand Cuts, exposes the challenges facing the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) as a result of mounting funding cuts to the National Park Service.

 “At the CRNRA seasonal staff were cut and trash cans were removed from parks,” said Jennette Gayer, State Advocate with Environment Georgia “We don’t want a death by a thousand cuts for Georgia’s parks.”

Parks closures during last fall’s government shutdown capped off the third straight year in which Congress cut funding to the National Park Service 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.

“There is no doubt that the impact of funding cuts is being felt at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area,” said William Cox the Recreation Area’s Superintendent. “In addition to seasonal staffing cuts we are asking trail users and picnickers to pack-out their own trash and mowing less, funding cuts mean tangible changes for visitors.”

The CRNRA provides critical habitat for wildlife like Green Herons and ensures clean drinking water for the majority of Metro Atlanta. Visitors to the parks have been enjoying opportunities for hiking, paddling or just taking in its beauty since.

“The CRNRA provides two benefits that are truly worth investing in: much needed green space in a city desperately short of green space and protection of a critical drinking water source,” said James Schulz, President of Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy . “We look forward to working to protect and preserve this unique Atlanta resource in 2014 and urge appropriators to do the same.”

While the budget deal passed in December may allow for some increase in the parks budget, it is up to Congressional spending committees to decide the actual funding levels this month. 

“In addition to great fishing and a beautiful park lined river, parks, like the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area provides $241 million in revenue every year,” said Chris Scalley a Guide with the River Through Atlanta guide service.

“Between ongoing budget cuts, the sequester, and the government shutdown, 2013 was a dismal year for our parks,” said Gayer. “I urge all of Georgia’s Congressional Delegation to give our parks, seashores, battlefields, and historic sites a fresh start in 2014 by fighting for full park funding during the current budget negotiation.“