The federal government recently directed all national parks to cut 20% from their budgets to focus on "core operations." Aren't they already underfinanced? Trimming 20% from existing tight budgets would mean potentially closing visitors' centers, cutting back on trail maintenance, habitat and species protection services, slowing maintenance of natural and historical monuments and sites, reducing staff, or other (non-core?) services. The current administration contends that volunteers and increased efficiency will pick up the slack where park rangers, staffers, or services have been in the past.
Hmm. I understand the basics of the 80/20 rule: focus on that which drive(s) 80% of the revenue (usually 20% of your time or products). However, at a time when many political issues divide Americans, wouldn't it make sense to leave our national treasures alone, especially since summer vacation is just on the horizon?
Summer is prime vacation season for thousands of school kids, families, college students, teachers, and others. Groups travel together to visit U.S. national parks because of their accessibility, natural and historical rare beauty, sunny, warm weather June through August, and outdoor activities from camping and hiking to swimming and boating and more.
Many journalists, environmental organizations (such as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), newspapers, and bloggers are writing about the national park budget woes. It's a hot topic because parks are so fundamental to the American landscape, history, and culture.
The National Parks Traveler points out a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial calling for an "end to ritual neglect" of national parks. Here's a quote:
"[National Park] Superintendents are running out of tricks, and visitors will eventually notice. Beyond basic services, long-term needs are ignored. Some parks cannot catalog or restore precious artifacts. Most cannot preserve habitat. Invasive species are taking over. The Park Service is putting on an inexplicable happy face.
"The most endangered species in many of America's national parks today is the park ranger."
Question: Should we place national park rangers on the endangered species list? The largest amount of protective measures possible come to a species' rescue when placed on the endangered species list. Preservation efforts immediately get underway for the species and surrounding habitat. Protective laws are comprehensive and powerful. So powerful, in fact, that they can return a species back to thriving health.
If we want to maintain national parks complete with garbage service, restrooms, drinking water, maintained trails, flora, and fauna, and interpretive tours, perhaps we should get rangers listed.
Comments? Agree (partially)? Disagree (partially)? I'm curious how others feel about this topic.