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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 3

Meeting Date: June 22, 2004

Subject/Title: Support of Americans for National Parks sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association

Prepared by: John Stevenson, City Manager

Submitted by: John Stevenson, City Manager

RECOMMENDATION
Approve a Resolution supporting the Americans for National Parks coalition, sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association, and, as requested by these groups, support legislative efforts to maintain and preserve America’s 388 national park units.

PREVIOUS ACTION
None.

BACKGROUND
Even though Congress regularly appropriates operational funds for our 388 national park units, the amount is estimated to fall $600 million or approximately 30% short of what is really needed to address the burgeoning pressures from increased visitation, pollution, motorized use, and overdevelopment adjacent to the parks. The funding has not been adequate to provide public education, preserve museum artifacts, restore historic structures, and stem the disappearance of plant and wildlife species.

Americans for National Parks is a nonpartisan coalition of local governments, chambers of commerce, nonprofits, businesses, trade associations, individuals, and others working to encourage Congress and the administration to regularly address and fund the full needs of the National Park System.

FISCAL IMPACT
None.

Attachments:
Resolution

RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE AMERICANS FOR NATIONAL PARKS COALITION AND ITS GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF: SECURING CONGRESSIONAL APPROPRIATIONS TO ENSURE THAT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CAN MEET ITS MISSION AND MAKE UP FOR PREVIOUS FUNDING DEFICIENCIES IN A WAY THAT SATISFIES DIVERSE PARK NEEDS INCLUDING SCIENCE, RESOURCE PROTECTION, AND EDUCATION

WHEREAS, the 388 units of America’s National Park system contain 83 million acres of culturally, historically, and naturally significant lands that are home to 168 threatened and endangered species, an 80 million item museum collection, and 20,000 buildings of historic value; and

WHEREAS, National Parks generate substantial economic benefit for surrounding communities through local employment, tax revenues, visitor spending on meals and lodging, businesses expenditures to service visitors, and NPS expenditures for park employee salaries, supplies, services, construction projects, etc.; and

WHEREAS, California’s 23 national parks contribute over $1.18 billion to the state economy and local communities and support 30,000 jobs; and

WHEREAS, a series of business plan analyses conducted by business and policy experts in conjunction with the National Park Service indicate that the Park Service’s annual operations budget falls at least $600 million, approximately 30 percent short of what is needed; and

WHEREAS, the National Park Service has identified a $4.9 billion backlog of overdue maintenance, infrastructure repair and knowledge-related projects that is the direct result of decades of annual shortfalls in the parks’ operating budget; and

WHEREAS, the Park Service has only one interpreter per 100,000 park visitors, visitor centers have reduced operating hours or have been closed altogether for months at a time, public education programs have been reduced or eliminated, scientific monitoring of flora and fauna has lapsed, historic buildings are allowed to deteriorate, priceless museum collections are piled up in corners or boxed up and stored in damp basements, and wildlife and Native American artifacts are being poached; and

WHEREAS, the air quality in our Sierra parks is of great concern and must be addressed; and

WHEREAS, Yosemite National Park 3.4 million visitors contribute over $300 million to local economies, yet interpretive rangers on staff is at the lowest in a decade, campfire programs no longer exist, many positions have been eliminated, and the park struggles to maintain restrooms, trails, and campgrounds and is facing an annual shortfall of $17 million; and

WHEREAS, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ 1.2 million visitors contribute over $98 million to local economies, yet because of a $14 million shortfall additional funding is needed to deter illegal marijuana cultivation, rent a new ambulance, provide education programs for Valley children and educators, and reopen four closed backcountry ranger stations; and

WHEREAS, Americans for National Parks is a coalition of nonprofit organizations, businesses, trade associations, government agencies, and other nonpartisan supporters of the national parks committed to protecting America’s most inspiring and historic places; and

WHEREAS, Americans for National Parks is working to encourage Congress and the administration to address the funding needs of the National Park System, this year and every year by educating and mobilizing key decision makers, and building public demand for protecting park resources through media relations, advertising, and grassroots education; and

WHEREAS, we believe that the region’s public lands could become a “significant tourist draw” for our community and that such additional visitors would add to our economic base in the form of tourism dollars; and

WHEREAS, we have not seen the budget of Yosemite or Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks keep up with inflation, maintenance needs, nor the visitor counts; and

WHEREAS, the guiding principles of Americans for National Parks consist of:

1. Congressional Responsibility: The coalition supports congressional appropriations sufficient to ensure that the National Park Service meets its mission “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife” of the 388 national park units and “to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
2. Addressing Park Deficits: The coalition believes that Congress must not only meet annual funding needs but also make up for previous funding deficiencies and cumulative shortages by securing funds to educate visitors and to protect wildlife, cultural and natural resources, historic structures, and other resources.
3. Business Management: The coalition supports the rigorous application of sound business and management principles in each park unit as developed jointly by the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Service with input from business and policy experts and local communities.
4. Diversity of Needs: The coalition supports an equitable distribution of funding to satisfy diverse park needs including science, resource protection, and education in addition to park infrastructure repair and enhancement.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Brentwood supports the Americans for National Parks Coalition, as defined by the guiding principles listed above, and supports legislative efforts to maintain and preserve America’s 388 national park units.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at a regular meeting held on the 22nd day of June 2004 by the following vote:
 

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