Boston, MA – On the first day of spring, Environment Massachusetts unveiled a list of the top ten reasons Cape Cod National Seashore deserves protection from federal budget cuts and overdevelopment.
Budget cuts already pose significant challenges to the national parks system. Now, as funding for key conservation programs is set to run out in just one week, today, we are asking Congress to keep the National Seashore open and thriving.
“The Cape Cod National Seashore is where we find some of the Cape’s most beautiful scenery, from high dunes at Marconi Beach in Wellfleet to the sunsets at Racepoint in Provincetown,” said Alison Giest of Environment Massachusetts.
“The Cape Cod National Seashore is one our country’s crown jewels of conservation and preservation,” said Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich). “It welcomes visitors from around the world, showcasing our commitment to environmental protection, celebrating Cape Cod’s unique geography, habitat, and history. Full financial support for the Seashore should be a top national priority.”
Here are a few of the reasons presented by Environment Massachusetts for why Congress should protect the Cape Cod National Seashore:
- Around 4 million people visit Cape Cod National Seashore each year, making it one of America’s most popular national parks.
- The Seashore contains over 450 species of amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals and approximately five percent of the entire Atlantic population here. 32 of these are rare and endangered species.
- The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees says “sequestration will limit access to the beaches at the Cape Cod National Seashore.” These beaches serve as a nesting area for protected shorebirds, like piping plovers that need to be monitored daily. With decreased staff, the park will no longer be able to safely monitor these birds and keep those beaches open to the public.
There’s no contesting Cape Cod’s immeasurable ecological and recreational value. Yet, federal budget cuts already diminished the Seashore’s budget by $376,000 likely reducing access to swimming beaches, closing the Province Land Visitor Center, cutting seasonal staff and diminishing capacity to monitor wildlife.
“The Cape Cod National Seashore is a piece of history, not only for environmental conservation, but for the fact that President John F. Kennedy signed it into legislation,” said Jessica Sylver, president and CEO of Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce. “He had an affinity for the Cape and especially for the Cape Cod National Seashore.“
“To simply say the cape is one of nature’s wonders would be a grand understatement,” said Bob Wilds owner of Great Marsh Kayak Tours. “When one can spend a morning floating alongside humpback whales, mid day biking inches from the vast and rich human and natural history of our coast and alas, by day’s end to share the solace of the world’s most spectacular sunsets! Cape Cod can be summed up in one word, magic!”
Thankfully, Senator Warren took an important step to defend the Cape Cod National Seashore just this week by co-sponsoring a bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Senator Cowan should follow her example.
The LWCF is a federal program with a track record of success in Massachusetts protecting places like the Seashore, 445 of our local and state parks and our watersheds. It provides these places with critical protection from increased development by putting a fraction of the royalties from offshore oil drilling toward our Park Service being able to purchase privately-owned land within or surrounding the park. Otherwise this land becomes vulnerable to development, threatening local ecosystems, economies and recreational destinations.
Unfortunately, Congress annually raids the LWCF for non-conservation purposes, leaving a legacy of backlogged conservation and recreation needs. Earlier this week, Senator Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Boozman (R-AR) each tried to further slash the program. Congress will vote on funding levels for the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as the National Parks budget this week as a part of the FY14 budget.
“I urge Senators Warren and Cowan to be a true champions for Massachusetts’s natural heritage by supporting funding for the Cape Cod National Seashore and other parks and rejecting cuts to the national park budget,” said Alison Giest.
Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.