Recent comments

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 3 days ago

    The tight budgets and dearth of new national parks in recent years is due to a lack of political will, not available funds. The National Park Service budget is about $2.6 billion a year, or a mere 1/15 of 1 percent of the total federal budget. The average American household pays only $2.56 in taxes annually for the operation of our park system — a little more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

    The public supports adequate funding for the National Park Service: 90 percent of respondents in a 2012 bipartisan opinion survey said they support maintaining or increasing the National Park Service budget. This is because the agency's spending priorities are in line with those of the American people. About 85 percent of of the National Park Service budget goes directly to park protection, education, and recreation programs. In contrast, only 40 percent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget is allocated to the National Wildlife Refuge System, 6 percent of the Forest Service budget goes to protection, education, and recreation programs, and 6 percent of Bureau of Land Management funding is devoted to the National Landscape Conservation System.

    The National Park Service budget could be expanded by reallocating federal funds from unpopular and questionable programs. Examples include annual subsidies of $8 billion to the nuclear industry, $16 billion to the fossil fuel industry, $17 billion to industrial agriculture, and $20 billion for the problem-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane. The budget of any one of these extravagant programs could fund the National Park Service many times over.

    We can also afford to expand our National Park System. Most potential parks are already administered by other federal agencies, which have operating budgets that can be transferred with the land. Parks authorized to encompass private lands can be acquired through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, landowner donations, and private contributions.

    For major sites and landscapes of national significance, National Park System designation is usually more protective than state, local, or private ownership. Some state parks and municipal lands provide robust safeguards and excellent programs, yet the vast majority of these lands allow a variety of damaging industrial uses and have budgets that are far more limited than national parks. Private landowners and nonprofit organizations have preserved many important places, but they cannot offer the permanency of public ownership and — with the exception of a few high-profile sites — are chronically underfunded.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 3 days ago

    How can a government agency actually stand up and oppose Congress?

    By saying "we don't want it" as the military has done in many instances. They don't always win, but at least they take the stand.

    Please "teacher" show us where NPS's objections to a unit have been overruled.

    [edit] - I have discovered that if you expand the search option to all of NPS.gov rather than to the site you linked, you do indeed get many hits on "opposes". And in fact, many of those hits discuss the NPS opposing legislation - mostly legislation that interfers with their management. Apparently unlike others, they do have the backbone to oppose and aren't afraid to piss on the rug. They just don't oppose proposals to expand their domain.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 3 days ago

    For a country that spends $ 600 Billion + annually on defense spending, an $11.5 billion backlog seems almost trivial. I guess we need to decide what our true priorities are in this country. I am a person who loves to utilize my public lands and I don't mind paying more for the privilage. I also believe for all the faults in the NPS, it is neccassary and truly underfunded.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Does anybody have a few stats about how the NPS spends its money? Like, how many % spent on salaries, pensions, infrastructures, consultant, etc? How much is spent in the parks vs administration?

    All bureaucracies have this innate tendency to tend to operate for their own benefit over time. I'm sure some of it is true at the NPS. Not that a chronic underfunding helps any.

    I'm with Kurt and EC. We should debate the merits (or lack thereof) of the idea rather than using an ideological prism to judge it first.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Exactly, Lee. NPS can oppose it; they can also piddle on the carpet of those who fund NPS. A well reasoned science-based fact filled argument will only theorhetically change the course of those politicians who have been bought and paid for.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    How can a government agency actually stand up and oppose Congress? Kinda like standing on the railroad tracks to oppose that oncoming freight train.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Teachers know that students learn best when they do their own homework.

    Which just shows the "teacher" in this case doesn't know.

    At least Jim made a stab - although in that case it never got through Congress. Lee, you made the case that a burden has been put on the NPS by Congress driving the expansion. With the exception of Kirk's Patterson Great Falls - which "initially" was opposed, I have yet to see an example of a Park unit designated by Congress over the NPS's objection.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Three cheers to Kurt for writing this article. It proves that The Traveler believes in ideas and not just a "party line." The ideas we oppose deserve to be debated, too. Now, what is so bothersome about the idea of "privatizing" the parks? Simply, they would no longer reflect a national consensus that our heritage deserves PUBLIC care.

    The point is: It is not just the privatizers questioning that consensus. It is rather our "educators" often leading the pack. Beginning in the 1960s, college revolutionaries taught that everything American was suspect, then in response to the Vietnam War. By the 1980s they were in charge. Don't think for a moment that all of this is coming from conservatives, i.e., Republicans. There are as many "liberals" who would do away with the national park system as a "taking" from minority groups. They teach at the University of Wisconsin, Stanford University, Brown, and many others. These faculty are the direct opposite of what we had before 1960 when we could take pride in American "exceptionalism."

    If we want to solve the Park Service's funding problem, we have to BELIEVE in what the agency does. If someone cannot teach that, how can we expect the Park Service--or the national park idea--to survive?

    The point about PERC is that they invited Kurt to the table knowing full well what he believes--and believes in. Think about that for a change. Of course, there goes Kurt's chance of ever speaking at a college commencement. However, somehow I think he doesn't mind.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Lee, the NPS websites in general are difficult at best if you're searching for items. The Morning Report site is particularly bad. I've been following it for years and a quick search this morning failed to return any specific legislative proposals, let alone the Park Service's position.

    I can tell you that originally the agency opposed Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, and that it supports the proposed Blackstone River Valley site.

    Rick, we don't need necessarily to credit or discredit the source of the idea, but to consider the idea by itself as a possible solution for the Park Service's funding issues. The idea offers more than a few possibilities, both in the profit- and non-profit worlds, as well as state park systems.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    And any student of logic will tell you that being able to evaluate your sources helps to validate or invalidate your material. PERC's website, on the first page, has links to explain why recycling doesn't work, why the EPA is bad, and why "market solutions" are best.

    What was not transparent was who funds PERC.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Teachers know that students learn best when they do their own homework.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    I can't allot the time to a lengthy search on this subject, but my [unsupported] impression is by the time a proposed NPS addition has gone through the "study" process and been found to meet the criteria for "national significance," DOI rarely voices opposition to the authorization bill.

    A quick Google search did find a couple of interesting exceptions. I suppose the second item, which would use NPS dollars for a private operation, could even be viewed as an example of "outsourcing" in reverse:

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-110shrg40674/html/CHRG-110shrg40674.htm

    "S. 1941, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Wolf House, located in Norfork, Arkansas, as a unit of the National Park System....the Department opposes this bill. Because the Wolf House has a predominant significance in the political history of the State of Arkansas, we believe it would be more suited for inclusion in ... State Park."

    "S 2220 would authorize funding for the National Tropical Botanical Garden for Fiscal Year 2009 and beyond.... The Department opposes S. 2220... as critical as the Garden's work is, we believe that the use of limited National Park Service appropriations to fund the operation and maintenance costs of a private organization is inappropriate."

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    So what did you find?

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Yup. Morning Report site. Using the Search box in upper right corner.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Sorry, no results found for 'opposes'. Try entering fewer or broader query terms.

    That's what I get, but since you got returns, you should be able to tell us the last time the NPS opposed the addition of a unit.

    PS - I am talking about searching the morning report site, not NPT

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Gosh, Buffalo Bob, I just searched for "opposes" and found bunches and bunches of hits.

    Did you spell it right?

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    EC, if you will check the NPS Morning Report on Mondays, you'll find the weekly Legislative Activities Report. If you do, you will find it's not at all unusual to find a note regarding a proposal currently being considered by Congress. The note will say "The Department Supports the Bill," or "The Department Opposes the bill."

    http://www.nps.gov/morningreport/

    It's also essential to remember that Congress is the 45-Ton gorilla in the living room. What might happen if the director or Secretary of the Interior tried to stand up and loudly say NO?

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Lee, when was the last time the NPS opposed the addition of a unit? Searching the site for the word "opposes" returns no hits.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    But again, how much of the expansion has been driven by the Park Service and how much by Congress?

    How often do we see the NPS saying "No"? Do they frequently appear before Congress and say "we don't want that unit"?

    Honestly I don't know the answer but I am not aware of it happening. A question that needs some research but I would love to see examples from so of those with more intimate knowledge of NPS operations.

    Congress is indeed at fault but I suspect the NPS is a willing accomplice. Like any entity, the natural propensity is to expand and ask for more money not contract and reduce your budget.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Gary--The maintenance backlog is not a myth. All one has to do is to closely observe the crumbling infrastructure in many of our parks to know that. You don't replace roofs on buildings by declariing more wildernesss. The really sad part is that the lack of adequate appropriations often means that routine, cyclic maintenance cannot be completed, thus adding to the backlog. It's not a pretty picture.

    Rick

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    Right, wild. But again, how much of the expansion has been driven by the Park Service and how much by Congress? Is it that the NPS has grown too large to be efficient or that the resources available -- money and personnel -- make it impossible to operate properly or efficiently? If your lawnmower breaks down and you have no choice but to replace it with a pair of scissors, how efficient and effective will your efforts be?

    And Gary, remember 2003 when the only people in the visitor center at Bryce Canyon were wearing Ford Motor Company logos on their shirts as part of President Cheney's push to "privatize" the parks?

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    So let me get this straight, park service biologists, climatologists, geologists, and archeologists have to wear disney logos and answer to mickey mouse stockholders? You do realize this idea comes with a big of ridiculousness, right? I think the "maintenece backlog" is well over stated. A lot of that can be solved, by simply designating more wilderness in National parks, and keeping them wild, and not attempting to accomodating the auto crowd at every whim.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    so you'll know right where they are coming from and who they really represent. Then decide if you agree with them or not.

    I'd rather stick to the ideas and weight them on their own merits. For someone that complains about factions not cooperating, it is kind of ironic that the first thing you do is challange an idea because of who it came from.

    Second, let's get Congress out of the picture. It's not so much the National Park Service that has messed our parks as it is Congress with its continual pork barrel legislation and attempts to micromanage.

    100% agree - especially the micromanage part

    . Let's let those who use and abuse them pay for the privilege.

    100% agree

    Fourth, remember that if PERC and Congressional Rob Bishops and others like them prevail, our public lands will no longer be public

    Some lands might not be public and probably shouldn't be. Other lands including some Park units as noted above might be very well better run by a non-profit organization. As I have noted before they do quite well with the likes of Mount Vernon, Monticello, Mountpelier, Ash Lawn, properties under the domain of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, et (many) al. To use scare tactics to imply all our public lands including our national parks will dissappear is just dishonest. Noone is suggesting that including PERK and Congressman Rob Bishop.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    While I am not in favor of privatizing the NPS I do think something needs to be done. It makes no sense to me to read about the huge maintenance backlogs and budget shortfalls over and over again and at the same time reading how they want to expand, often into areas of questionable or debatable value. I'm all in favor of more natural area's because once they are lost they are hard to get back but the NPS needs to demonstrate they can manage the ones already on their plate first. It does appear to me the NPS has grown too large to be efficient.

  • Is Outsourcing Parks A Key To Solving The National Park Service's Financial Woes?   1 week 4 days ago

    First, I hope all readers will take a few moments to explore the web link for the Property and Environment Research Center so you'll know right where they are coming from and who they really represent. Then decide if you agree with them or not.

    Second, let's get Congress out of the picture. It's not so much the National Park Service that has messed our parks as it is Congress with its continual pork barrel legislation and attempts to micromanage. Get rid of the political forces that continually tug the parks back and forth as Congress tries to keep every special interest group in the world happy and ensure maximum profits for GOP's socialists and maximum income into campaign coffers. (GOP Socialism = Socialize expenses, Privatize profits)

    Third, let's indeed run our parks (and forests and BLM lands) as businesses. Let's let those who use and abuse them pay for the privilege. People willing to spend nearly a thousand dollars a day for a family to visit Dizzyworld or tens of thousands for ultrahuge travel trailers shouldn't complain if they are asked to pay for their fun on public lands.

    Fourth, remember that if PERC and Congressional Rob Bishops and others like them prevail, our public lands will no longer be public and we'll be paying much more than we'd probably pay if we simply ran our parks and recreational outdoors like a good business.

    Here in the west, the phrase "Property Rights" means I got mine, it's mine, gimmie what I'm demanding or NO TRESPASSING. What should happen is that land that is already private remains private. Land that is public needs to be supported by the public.