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The National Parks Conservation Association details issues it would like to see included in the economic recovery package.
By Vanessa Morel - www.npca.org
The economic recovery package being developed by the Obama transition team and Congress represents the most significant opportunity to renew our national parks in at least half a century. The Park Service is in a position to obligate more than $2.5 billion in funds within the next two years, including more than $1.5 billion that could be obligated within the year, beginning in weeks or months. There is also an opportunity to use national and community service--through existing authorities and ready-made expansions of authorities like AmeriCorps--to conduct many of the needed activities in the national parks. A National Parks Service Corps, Clean Energy Corps, the Public Land Corps and other such endeavors can provide ready employment opportunities while facilitating the stewardship of our national treasures. Congress and the administration need to seize this historic opportunity.
1. We are asking for your help to include beneficial, job-creating projects addressing critically needed improvements within the National Park System in the economic recovery package. Just as President Franklin Roosevelt used WPA and CCC projects improving what he recognized as important national assets to attempt to lift the country out of the Great Depression, addressing park needs can and should be part of the solution for economic recovery today.
2. For years, America's national parks have operated with substantial shortfalls in appropriated federal funding - a shortfall estimated to be as much as $750 million every year. As a result, the condition of these precious assets jointly owned by all the American people is, in many instances, extremely poor and even unsafe.
3. the National Park Service has identified more than $2.5 billion in spending it can obligate within two years, with at least $1 billion that could begin within a matter of months, for ready-to-go infrastructure projects and greening initiatives in parks across the country - including road and bridge construction, ecosystem restoration, historic building preservation, and trail rehabilitation - that will improve safety and public access and repair assets significant to our shared national heritage while creating more than 50,000 jobs. As part of this, Centennial Challenge projects already in the pipeline, with private contributions potentially matching federal dollars, means the stimulative impact of the government's investment is doubled. (Some of these projects are in your state.)
4. An added investment of $200 million in a new National Parks Service Corps managed through the existing AmeriCorps structure can provide training and employment for 10,000 young people and baby boomers who are looking to give back to their country and find themselves in need of income based on losses in their retirement accounts.
5. Studies have shown for every dollar invested in the National Park System, at least four dollars are created in economic activity.
6. This historic opportunity to combine essential economic stimulus with critical enhancement and repair of the national parks owned by every American that represent the best of our shared natural and cultural heritage and experience should not be overlooked.
7. Please let your House or Senate leaders know you believe projects in the national parks should be included in the economic recovery package.
If you have questions or would like some more information on some of Tuesday's special topics, please contact:
Transportation: Laura Loomis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-454-3918
National Parks Conservation Association
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Updated February 8, 2009
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