2008 Bush Budget Opinion Editorial
Looking for the Pea in a Budget
February 28, 2007
Get your facts first, then you can distort them
as much as you please
-- Mark Twain
Before we get too giddy about the President's proposed 2008 budget, with regard
to the Park Service's management of Crater Lake National Park, why don't we look
at a few facts first.
Of the $230 million "increase" in park operations, $211 million is actually at
the expense of other Park programs. A
closer look at this budget shows that maintenance and construction, historic
preservation, state assistance and land acquisition will be reduced to MOVE
money, not increase overall benefits.
Our second concern is a proposal that would match POTENTIAL private
contributions with tax dollars, dollar-for-dollar, up to $100 million a year for
ten years. This drastically alters the way we have funded our national parks for
over 100 years and forces the Park Manager into a role of
With a mandate to reach the annual goal of $100 million in donations, managers
may seek donations from sources beyond the appropriate philanthropic ones. This
could open the door to less altruistic “investors” in our National Parks. Over
time, this could result in parks being far less public, and far more private.
Public Television now replaces vanishing government funding with commercials, so
too might sponsors advertise themselves in the parks. These donors might also
feel they have the right to dictate how parks are to be maintained and operated.
Philanthropy could quickly turn into philandering.
The long and proud tradition of true philanthropy in national parks should
always be considered an "added value" above the necessary core level of publicly
funded service and protection in our national parks. Volunteer contributions
should never be construed as a replacement for federal support.
Requiring NPS to find private sector funds to support basic capital
improvements/maintenance could also skew what projects get done. There will
likely be greater emphasis on “show me” projects to honor private investors such
as new visitor centers, or rehabilitation of prominent historic sites, rather
than meeting dire park infrastructure needs such as utilities or roads.
In our analysis, the limited overall increase in “new” money is only 2% above
2006 levels and only $14 million higher than 2002 appropriations. The 2007 cost
of living adjustment for Social Security was 3.3%.
William Steel dedicated much of his life to getting Crater Lake established as a
national park, ensuring it was protected from special interests, and helping visitors to appreciate
it's extraordinary beauty. Many others have given much, educators, scientists,
and concerned citizens following in his footsteps. Let us follow in their
footsteps. Ensure Crater Lake remains our park for generations to come.
Lake Institute Board President
National Park Service, Retired
Executive Director, Crater Lake Institute
Crater Lake Institute