Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who chairs the House Natural Resources subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands, said the Park Service should eliminate all new land acquisitions and reevaluate its mission. The administration’s fiscal 2013 budget includes $59 million for parkland acquisition.
“Why don’t we prioritize and realize the federal government cannot print money fast enough to do everything that needs to get done?” Bishop said.
In many ways, the parks’ predicament is the result of federal decisions over the past 11 years to shift money to the operations budget at the expense of everything else. In 2001, operations constituted 64 percent of total park appropriations; in the 2013 budget, they account for 87 percent. This has left the system with an $11.4 billion backlog.
“Congress has emphasized the operations budget because it’s what keeps the doors open,” said Denis Galvin, who served as the National Park Service’s deputy director from 1985 to 1989 and from 1996 to 2002.