With National Park Week in full swing, the National Parks Conservation Association is calling on the public to reach out to their senators about supporting a new bill that would allocate federal funds for national parks maintenance.
During National Park Week, which runs from April 15 to 23, the National Parks Conservation Association wants Americans to do more than just visit the country’s 400-some national parks for free. NCPA wants visitors to advocate for national parks.
— National Parks News (@NPCA) April 15, 2017
“As we celebrate National Park Week, we hope visitors are inspired by the once-in-a-lifetime experiences our parks offer—and leave feeling empowered to speak up for them,” said NPCA President Theresa Pierno in a press release.
This call for action comes after the announcement of the National Park Service Legacy Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) that aims to help with $12 billion in needed infrastructure repairs at the national parks. The bill would establish a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund that would allocate $500 million each year to the parks’ maintenance needs until 2047. According to NPCA, more than half of the projects on the repair list are road projects, including the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, DC, and Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park.
“Thanks to Senators Warner and Portman, we have a bill to address desperately needed repair projects in national parks from Yellowstone to Shenandoah to Cuyahoga Valley,” Pierno said in a press release. “The $12 billion maintenance backlog is an ever-growing challenge for our national parks, which welcomed a record-breaking 331 million visitors last year. This proposal will put our national parks on the right track.”
But introducing a bill isn’t enough. NCPA is also encouraging the public to ask their senators to cosponsor the National Park Service Legacy Act. NCPA has made it easy by creating an online letter and form.
And just in case potential advocates are wondering if their voices are really going to be heard, NCPA recently published an article on Advocacy 101 that offers tips on the best methods of reaching legislators, as well as some stats that show that grassroots advocacy works. For instance, 90 percent of Hill staffers say individualized snail-mail letters truly do make a difference; and just about the same amount of congressional offices indicate that actively participating in towns halls are just as effective as taking a trip to DC, according to the Congress Foundation.
“National Park Week provides the opportunity for visitors to become Park Advocates,” Pierno said. “And one of the best things people can do after their visit is to join National Parks Conservation Association in urging Congress and the Administration to work together to address this challenge so that the Park Service can continue preserving America’s favorite places.”