Despite "happy talk" assurances from political appointees at the Department of the Interior and National Park Service (NPS), all is not well this summer in America's national parks. A Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) analysis of the status of 37 national parks – including 17 surveyed in detail by the Coalition -- finds widespread evidence of major problems that will be evident this summer – including decreased safety for visitors, longer emergency response times, endangerment of protected resources, and dirtier and less well-maintained parks – and only grow worse in the coming years.
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Key findings of the CNPSR survey include the following:
- Visitors and resources at national parks will be put at greater risk this summer than in the past due to extensive full-time emergency and law enforcement staff cuts.
- Most surveyed parks will have fewer law enforcement rangers on the job this summer to protect park visitors and park resources.
- Visitors to parks this summer will see evidence of deteriorating park operations resulting from reduced preventative maintenance, in terms of scheduled custodial checks, roadside litter pickup, and upkeep for grounds and buildings.
- Widespread cuts in seasonal hires will mean future or lower-quality visitor services, interpretive services, resource protection and maintenance. [Emphasis in the original.]
- Widespread cuts are putting the parks in an almost purely "reactive" posture, falling far short of the law and Congressional intent to protect the resources for future generations.
- The park maintenance backlog has increased rather than been reduced, as promised.
- NPS budget shifts are taking place largely at the expense of leaving key staff positions unfilled.
Hat tip: Docuticker.