Posted on April 21, 2005
WASHINGTON – At a press conference today, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Ken Salazar (D-CO) announced the introduction of the National Park Centennial Act, a bill that would fund the needs of the national parks for the next decade. “Americans enjoy a priceless fortune in the hundreds of national parks that grace our country,” said Senator McCain. “Hundreds of millions of families and visitors from all over the world have visited these parks for recreational, educational, and cultural opportunities as well as the sheer pleasure of being surrounded by natural beauty.” “I grew up and live on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and firmly believe there is nothing more central to the American character than the great American Outdoors,” said Senator Alexander. "This National Park Centennial Act will give millions of Americans an opportunity to contribute to the preservation of our national parks and plan ahead so future generations can have places to enjoy our outdoors. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation.” “Our National Parks are the jewels in the crown of American conservation,” said Senator Lieberman. “Summer trips to Yellowstone, Acadia, and the Great Smokies are as American as baseball and apple pie. But there is something wrong with these quintessential American landscapes. Our parks are in grave disrepair. And our budget does not contain the money to repair them. If this bill passes, the Park Service will have the money to maintain the buildings and the roads, restore the stressed ecosystems, and provide the resources that we all expect when we arrive at the Parks for our summer visits. That is a task on which we should start today. I don’t think we can afford to wait. We should act on this legislation with all due haste.” “Our national parks are our nation’s crown jewels and each generation’s compact with the future,” said Senator Salazar. “We should be doing everything in our power to keep them beautiful, pristine and healthy – this bill is a down-payment in that compact. I am proud to be a cosponsor with my Republican and Democratic colleagues.” If passed, the National Park Centennial Act would provide funding through the 100th birthday of the national parks in 2016 from a voluntary check-off on federal income tax returns and the general treasury, in order to address the current $600 million annual shortfall that is crippling the nation’s parks. This critical funding would enable parks to address the multi-billion-dollar backlog of natural and cultural preservation needs and infrastructure repairs, including preserving historic buildings, maintaining visitor centers, and protecting the wildlife and natural and cultural resources that lure visitors from across the country and around the world.