Tuesday, August 21, 2012

National Parks' Crisis is Self-Imposed

The view with my kids looks more precarious than it truly is.  It's a great view from atop Stony Man Mountain down to the Shenandoah River Valley even though it's not that much on the brink as it might look.

Precarious and brink are words that should be associated with this view for another reason though.  The view is in jeopardy as the National Park Service faces a $385 million glut of investment in the Blue Ridge area according to a recent Washington Post story

The American Enterprise Institute, in a column titled The National Park Service's Mission Creep, nailed the issue.

More and more parks have been added, but without a sustainable revenue stream to support long-term maintenance.  As AEI points out, "Politicians love to cut ribbons on shiny additions to the National Park Service empire. . .They are less interested in funding capital items and maintenance for their new baubles after the ribbons are cut."

The Skyland Lodge along Skyline Drive is the poster child for this.  The buildings got a minor update about a dozen years ago but haven't been updated since and most of the space remains pretty much unchanged from my first visit there as a kid in 1979--33 years ago!

Stimulus dollars funded roadway, guardrail, and overlook improvements in 2010, but, I fear, all that likely did was give a reason to defer everything else for years and years more.

The answer?  It's time to focus on what in our Park Service needs focus and bite the bullet on what we can do versus what we could do.  The crisis is self-imposed.

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