Where do parties stand on funding needs of the National Park system?

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With the Democratic National Convention under way, and the Republican National Convention soon to follow, it's natural to wonder what these two parties are thinking of in terms of the environment in general and national parks specifically.

Of course, earlier this year the Traveler touched on where Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama stood on national parks in response to questions from the National Parks Conservation Association.

At that time Senator Barack Obama said he believed the National Park Service needed more funding, but didn't make any suggestions on how that might be accomplished. Senator John McCain, however, voiced support of the president's Centennial Initiative, which is intended to generate $3 billion for the National Park Service by the agency's centennial in 2016 but isn't yet on pace to reach that goal.

Where do things stand today? Well, although there doesn't seem to be an available draft of the Republican Party's platform, the Democratic Party's draft platform (attached below) does make mention of both public lands in general and the parks specifically:

We will create a new vision for conservation that works with local communities to conserve our existing publicly-owned lands while dramatically expanding investments in conserving and restoring forests, grasslands, and wetlands across America for generations to come. Unlike the current Administration, we will reinvest in our nation's forests by providing the federal agencies with resources to reduce the threat of wildland fires, promote sustainable forest product industries for rural economic development and ensure that national resources are in place to respond to catastrophic wildland fires. We will treat our national parks with the same respect that millions of families show each year when they visit. We will recognize that our parks are national treasures, protected for special values, and will ensure that they are protected as part of the overall natural system so they are here for generations to come. We are committed to conserving the lands used by hunters and anglers, and we will open millions of new acres of land to public hunting and fishing.

Sounds nice in general, but, again, there are no specifics.

Against that backdrop, NPCA is mounting a public awareness campaign that includes a petition Americans can sign urging the next president and the incoming Congress to provide greater federal funding and protections for the National Park System. The campaign includes radio ads featuring actors Amy Madigan and Sam Waterston and print ads featuring Petrified Forest National Park and the National Mall as examples of national parks nationwide in need of greater funding.

A nationwide survey (attached below) conducted for NPCA earlier this year by Peter Hart Research Associates showed that 76 percent of respondents were much more or somewhat more likely to support a presidential candidate who has a strong commitment to protecting national parks; 83 percent of respondents indicated that it was extremely or quite important for the federal government to protect and support national parks such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the Everglades.

The print and radio public service advertisements, developed by the PlowShare Group, Inc., are being distributed to magazines, newspapers, and radio stations nationwide.

"Americans expect the federal government to take care of our national parks," says NPCA President Tom Kiernan."We’ll be looking to the new administration and Congress to fulfill that promise."

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