New Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center Analysis Details Impacts of Budget Cuts to Beloved Parks
By Lindsey A Wilson, Field Associate
Denver – As Congress approaches another deadline on the federal budget, a new Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center analysis, entitled Death by a Thousand Cuts, exposes the challenges facing Rocky Mountain National Park as a result of mounting funding cuts to the National Park Service.
“At Rocky Mountain National Park, the sequester cuts forced the park superintendent to close the Glacier Basin Campground through the entire 2013 season,” said Lindsey Wilson, Field Associate with Environment Colorado. “We don’t want a death by a thousand cuts for Rocky Mountain National Park.”
Rocky Mountain National Park provides critical habitat for wildlife like elk, pika and bighorn sheep. Visitors to the park have been enjoying some of the most beautiful hiking and camping in the country since the park opened in 1915.
Parks closures during last fall’s government shutdown capped off the third straight year in which Congress cut funding to the National Park Service operating budget. Additional cuts from the March 2013 sequester make for a 13 percent reduction in funding for our parks in today’s dollars over this period.
Death by a Thousand Cuts gives concrete examples of how Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park has been affected by the funding cuts in 2013:
- The Moraine Park Visitor Center was closed for the entire summer.
- The Beaver Meadows Visitor Center hours were reduced, closing at 6 pm instead of 9 pm.
- Summer interpretive programs were reduced by 35% from the year prior.
- Glacier Basin Campground was forced to close through the entire 2013 season.
“Let’s give our parks a fresh start in 2014,” added Wilson. “If we continue on this path, our grandchildren could be forced to explore parking lots and instead of river valleys and mountaintops.”
“In addition to their wealth of beauty and wonder, our parks provide $319,000,000 in revenue every year,” said Wilson. “Defunding our parks is like shooting ourselves in the foot.”
While the budget deal passed in December may allow for some increase in the parks budget, it is up to Congressional spending committees to decide the actual funding levels this month.
“We urge Senator Bennet and Udall to keep fighting for places like Rocky Mountain National Park by ensuring they’re provided the full funding they desperately need during the upcoming budget negotiations,” Wilson concluded. “Colorado park lovers are counting on it.”
Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces through research, public education, outreach and organizing. For more information, visit www.environmentcoloradoresearchandpolicycenter.org