Posted on April 21, 2005
Tomorrow the President will go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - which is out the back door from where I live - to celebrate Park’s Week and Earth Day and say that he has lived up to his commitment to spend $5 billion on the national park backlog. I commend him for that, but there’s a lot more to do. We have 2,100 volunteers in the Great Smoky Mountains Park, we’ve had events in the Smokies to raise $8 million to support the park, but the park still says, ‘this is just one part.’ It has $180 million worth of needs, yet over the next 5 years the federal budget will only provide about $35 million. So this Centennial Act is a tremendous idea to unleash the money in our pockets that we would like to spend to preserve our parks. The question is: Why single out the national parks on our tax returns – because many other people want to do the same thing? I think I have an answer for that. Egypt has its pyramids; England has its history; Italy has its art; and the United States has the Great American Outdoors. And the national parks are the best expression of that. They are an essential part of the American character and they deserve this exceptional treatment. I’m delighted to be a part of the bill.