New Year’s Letter to my Congressional Representative

Instead of advertising my outdoor goals on my blog, I think it more appropriate to introduce myself to Mark Meadows, my new Congressional Representative.

Rep. Mark Meadows
North Carolina 11th District
2334 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Meadows:
I just moved to West Asheville from North Asheville, so I’m now in the 11th district – your district.

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 don’t own any land. I share our parks, forests, and trails with all Americans; we’re all owners. I have more chance to pass on the battlefields, forts, and trails to my grandchildren than if I had acres of private land, tied up in deeds, trusts, taxes, and lawyers. The Smokies and the Blue Ridge Parkway are mine and I don’t even have to mow the lawn. I own the paths, creeks, waterfalls, and historic structures.

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.

Visitors flock to national parks, 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. A year into the Trump administration and we don’t yet have a director for the National Park Service.

d. And Secretary wants to raise the admission fees to large national parks.

So, please, Rep. Meadows, fund our national parks properly and work on a real budget.

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