Report to Obama: Invest in National Parks

Our national parks, like Grand Teton, need help. (Photo: chascar [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) recently released a report (PDF) highlighting the benefits of some $2.5B worth of ready-to-go projects in national parks all over the country.

My buddy Hank at EcoGeek loves Obama's stimulus package and the green bits spread around it. The Republicans hate it, mostly because they recognize its success will push them into the Washington power hinterlands and out of the White House for a couple of decades. The NPCA report estimates that 57,000 jobs could be created with an investment of $2.5 billion.

Our national parks have been virtually ignored by the Bush Administration. Budgets have been cut, staffing slashed, and giant backlogs of work have built up, a backlog that the NPCA hopes Obama turns an eye towards.

The National Park Service needs to rebuild park bridges and roads, fight invasive species, preserve historic buildings, build renewable energy systems, rehabilitate trails, and green up park facilities. There is a failing sewer system in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio that needs a million dollars. Eleven million is needed to repair the Bonnie Claire Road in Death Valley Nation Park.

The National Parks Conservation Association also recently found that for every dollar invested in the nation parks, at least $4 of economic value is generate for the public.

According to the NPCA, $200 million should be spent to create the National Parks Service Corps, which could be done through an expansion of AmeriCorps. The Corps would provide 10,000 young people and retirees jobs working on national parks projects.

Seventy-five years ago President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps., a program that put a few million people to work planting trees, building roads, buildings, and trails, helping to create one of the best natural parks systems in the world. That system has fallen into a state of disrepair and the NPCA thinks it's time to turn that around.

We know Obama is hip to the need for green jobs to be included in the stimulus package. I just hope he divvies out the numbers right and makes sure that the National Parks System gets their piece of the pie. They've been waiting patiently for it.

Links [National Parks Conservation Association Report (PDF)] & [National Parks Conservation Association website]