Representative Patrick McHenry, my Congressman, was scheduled to hold an public listening session today in Western North Carolina.
He got sick and had to cancel his appearance. I am putting this letter in the mail. Here’s what I was going to tell him.
Rep. Patrick McHenry
North Carolina 10th District
2334 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. McHenry:
Thank you for coming out to speak to your constituents today. My parents didn’t take me to national parks when I was young. But I made up for it as an adult, going to parks on vacation, taking our son and now our grandchildren to parks.
I am very concerned about funding for the National Park Service. In North Carolina, we have nine national park units. Three of them are in your district or very close: Blue Ridge Parkway, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Last year, Americans and visitors all over the world flocked to our national parks because of the National Park Service centennial. This year promises to be another record year.
Yet, the proposed budget for FY18 is only 2.55 billion dollars.
a. This is a 13 percent cut to the Park Service, the largest cut to the agency since World War II, if enacted. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s budget would decrease funding for deferred maintenance, which the Smokies needs desperately.
b. The NPS would have to cut 1,242 in staff, or 6 percent, compared to last year. I am particularly concerned about cutting the number of national park rangers. Volunteers make an important contribution to parks. However, visitors want to see green and gray uniformed rangers who understand the park – its history, legacy and hiking trails.
c. Look at these numbers which I plucked from the NPS budget document.
In 2016, the actual allocation was 2,852,413. The NPS FY 2018 discretionary budget request of $2.55 billion is $296.6 million below the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution. Isn’t it sad that even the requests get lower and lower?
Speaking of Continuing Resolution, our government is only funded until the end of September 30. And you know that when the government shuts down, national parks are the first thing that gets closed.
So, please, Rep. McHenry, fund our national parks properly and work on a real budget. Thank you
PS Thank you to Nick Lund of the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) for some good discussion and information.