The NPS Proposed Budget for the National Parks

First (and last) Caldwell Fork crossing
First (and last) Caldwell Fork crossing on the Boogerman Trail

President Obama submitted a four trillion dollar budget that includes three billion dollars for the National Park Service. It includes more than $1 billion to address the National Park System’s $11.3 billion maintenance backlog. The National Park Service operations budget request restores funding to levels prior to the sequester and other cuts

It also funds a public-private partnership – the Centennial Challenge – in connection with the system’s 2016 centennial.

2016 – That’s next year. You would have thought that the extra money might have come a little sooner.

To put the Park Service budget in perspective, the analysts at the National Park Conservation Association said the agency’s budget “represents just one-fifteenth of 1 percent of the federal budget, costing the average family about as much as a cup of coffee each year in income tax dollars.”  In other words, the boost in NPS request is not going to make much difference to the taxpayer but will make a lot of difference to the parks.

President Obama’s budget for the national parks sounds very hopeful. But it’s all about me, as they say. Will the budget fund:

* New bridges on the Boogerman Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? See above.

* Enough staff so that the visitor center at Congaree National Park can be open on Sundays? How can a national park visitor center be closed on Sunday?

Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island

* Rangers to give regular tours on Cumberland Island National Seashore?

* More rangers to interpret Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site? When I visited, the one ranger on duty was being pulled so many directions.

But first, let’s hope that Congress passes the budget.

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