Tag Archives: National parks

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.

Government shutdown again?

Sometimes it’s not difficult to become discouraged.

So here I am letting people know about the potential hike in National Park entrance fees and asking them to comment. A public comment period on the National Park Service entrance fee proposal is open until Nov. 23, and comments can be filed at https//parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates. Written comments also are accepted by sending to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, DC 20240.

Then on Friday  I open up the Asheville Citizen-Times – yes, the physical paper – and one of the stories on page one is Crush of tough issues could bring government shutdown. And when the government shuts down, the first thing that closes are the national parks.

My reaction is ? What again?
It turns out that this was a threat in 2013. Actually in October 2013, the government did shut down for about two weeks. See my blog post about that shut-down.

It happened again in 2014, 2015 and 2016 . Maybe I’ve been blogging too long – ten years – but I’ve run out of anything new to say about these impending shutdowns.

See what the popular media has to say about it.

Me?? All I can say is that we, as a country, voted this Congress in and they can’t seem to do their job, which is to keep the government funded and running. Let your representatives know what you think.

Letter to my Congressperson

NPS flat hats

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.

At Alum Cave

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.

Isa at Carl Sandburg Home

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.