Park Service Faces New Budget Cuts

Once again, Congress is going after trivial parts of the federal budget as part of the process of averting a government shutdown. Sometimes Congress targets the National Park Service budget, even though national parks and monuments greatly benefit local economies and are extremely popular with Americans across the ideological spectrum. The NPS budget is a minuscule portion of the federal budget.

The House and Senate have arrived at a budget compromise on March 8th that would, among other things, cut $150 million from the National Park Service budget. These cuts continue a long trend in downward spending on our parks on the part of Congress and leave many parks with minimal staffing and closed facilities. These cuts will directly affect the Valles Caldera and Bandelier National Monument. Both these parks are facing staffing shortages and deteriorating facilities with inadequate funds.

Nationally the NPS has 3000 vacant positions that they don’t have the funds to fill. These are critical positions like law enforcement, public education, and facility maintenance. At the same time, federal employees were granted a much-needed pay raise at 5.2% last year. The pay raises come out of existing NPS funds, which probably means laying off employees to increase the pay of those retained.

The national parks are more popular than ever before. System-wide the NPS sites had 312 million visitors in 2022, up 5% from the year before and that trend continued in 2023. But rather than serve the Americans that seek out national parks, Congress cuts their services, degrades their experiences, and puts the parks and their wildlife at risk with inadequate protections. Big parks like Yellowstone are overwhelmed by crowds and the NPS does not have the staff or tools to manage the people.

Some people have suggested that creating an endowment for the NPS would be an alternative to Congress’ failure to fund the parks. The Smithsonian Institution, a system of museums in Washington, is funded by a perpetual endowment.

Until we reform NPS funding, please write your Congresspersons, and urge them to increase the NPS budget substantially. Even an additional five billion dollars would not make a click of difference on the federal budget deficit but would allow the NPS to catch up on work backlogs and hire staff to protect the parks and their wildlife.

Please write your representatives in the House and Senate and urge them to give the National Parks a big budget boost. Click here to make contact with Congress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.