Protecting and Maintaining Our National Parks

By 2000, most national parks had fallen into disrepair due to a funding and maintenance backlog. In 2001, the President made a commitment to protect and restore these parks through the National Parks Legacy Project.
  • Our nation has 384 park units encompassing 83 million acres of wilderness, forestland and historic and cultural sites, and receives over 287 million visitors annually.
  • By 2006, the National Parks Legacy Project will maintain the parks' forests and rangelands and restore crumbling park infrastructure, particularly water and sewer infrastructure that threatens to pollute parks. Over 1,300 improvement projects have been completed or are currently underway.
  • President Bush has nearly tripled funding to protect and manage the parks' habitat and natural resources. This includes large funding increases to combat foreign invasive species that crowd out native plants and animals.
  • By 2005, the National Parks Service will employ 20,637 people, an increase of 829 since President Bush took office.
  • The President has requested $1.1 billion this year for our parks, 37% higher than funding received in 2001.
    • This is twice as much as requested in 1998 by the previous Administration.
    • The request also includes $77.6 million for the National Park Service Natural Resource Challenge to continue to study and monitor the environmental health of our national parks.
The President will meet his goal of $4.9 billion to improve our parks, including steps to protect visitors from the threat of terrorism. Since 2002, $3.9 billion has been allotted to eliminate the maintenance backlog.

"The President has more than kept his promise to eliminate the National Park maintenance backlog by providing $2.9 billion for this purpose in just his first two years. The entire backlog, of $4.9 billion, will have been funded by FY 2006,"
Douglas Wheeler, former National Executive Director, The Sierra Club.

Reducing Haze In Our National Parks

In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, the President's Clear Skies Initiative will reduce the haze and smog that is increasing over some national parks. Many environmentalists believe that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee is one of the nation's haziest parks.
  • The Clear Skies Initiative will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions 73%, nitrogen oxide emissions 67%, and mercury emissions 69% by 2018.
  • These emissions create the haze and smog that can be seen over some national parks, as well as acid rain that harms vegetation and turns bodies of water so acidic they can't support life.

The Bush Administration has also imposed a rule requiring the Best Available Retrofit Technology (or "BART" rule) to help guide states and localities in upgrading pollution controls at aging power plants and other industries. The rule will help states and localities more rapidly meet goals of pollution reduction.

"These are large reductions no matter how you look at it. The benefits are clearly there. We are in an area that will clearly benefit the most from the Clear Skies Initiative. When those reductions start to occur - and most of the improvements will be in the East - the Smokies will be downwind where those improvements are going to happen."
Jim Renfro, air quality specialist with Great Smoky Mountains National Park

"President Bush's Clear Skies proposal would be sufficient to stop damage here [in the Adirondack Mountains]. He is the first President to propose a comprehensive solution in the quarter-century we have known about acid rain."
Bernard Melewski, Acting Director, Adirondack Council.