Parks remain nation’s best idea
As we remain inspired by Independence Day, we are reminded of the places that protect and preserve our American heritage. From Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shiloh National Military Park, our national parks inspire visitors from across the world and support local economics nationwide.
Yet, our national parks have been challenged by funding cuts over the last two years, and looming threats suggest they could see more cuts in the near future.
Not only does this mean that national parks such as the Smokies could have fewer rangers to educate us, help plan our visits, and respond to emergencies, but that parks will not have the funding they need to adequately maintain hiking trails, protect wildlife, preserve historic buildings, or keep visitor centers and campgrounds open for visitors to enjoy.
Some national parks may even be forced to close.
Our national parks are a pretty amazing bargain and we can’t afford to let them fall through the cracks in the midst of the federal budget debate. As a top tourist attraction, they cost us less than 1 percent of our federal budget, supporting $31 billion of private-sector spending and 258,000 jobs each year.
Great Smoky Mountains is the nation’s top park unit for visitor spending — providing a significant boost to Tennessee’s economy. And our parks provide opportunities for families to connect with our shared heritage.
National parks are “America’s Best Idea.” As we approach their centennial in 2016, we must ensure they have the funding they need to inspire generations to come.
Southeast Senior Program Manager
National Parks ConservationAssociation
706 Walnut St., Suite 200
Knoxville, TN 37902