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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 24, 2014 at 6:05 AM

National Parks: Congress needs to step up and provide funding

With recent coverage surrounding proposed fee increases at Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks and others, it’s important to note that while visitor fees help to a small extent the National Park Service’s fiscal crisis, Congress needs to do its share.

Entrance fees have remained stagnant for many years while the need for park improvements and visitor service enhancements have grown. Additional funds would help fix trails and make them more accessible, repair and maintain buildings, create new visitor programs and exhibits, and increase protection of the natural resources that our parks are renowned for. However, visitor fees are only a minor source of funding for our National Park Service.

Congress has an unmatched opportunity to address crumbling infrastructure and improve visitors’ experiences as our National Park system nears its 2016 centennial celebration. Americans love our national parks; it is time for our congressional leaders to acknowledge that deep public support and come together to renew their investment.

In Washington, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, are two key members with influence on budgeting who can help advance this effort. I hope they and their colleagues will seize this opportunity in the current spending bill and in the next Congress.

Rob Smith, Northwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, Seattle

Comments | More in National Parks | Topics: Jamie Herrera Beutler, Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park

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