Letter to the Editor: President’s budget cuts out ‘backbone of park operations’

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — I had the honor of serving as the superintendent of Zion National Park during the decade of the 1990’s. During this time I came to recognize the value and impact that the park had on local communities.

I was so disappointed to learn of the cuts to the National Park Service proposed in the president’s FY 2018 budget – 13%!

The parks will experience a cut of 8%, meaning over 1200 positions will be lost, many being the seasonal employees who are the backbone of park operations.

The result will be a cutback in programs and facilities available to the public resulting in fewer visitors to our national parks.

There is a direct relationship between park budgets and the economies of local communities. Over 330 million people visit the national parks last year- over 4 million at Zion National Park alone. They spent over $18 billion (Yes, billion) dollars annually in the communities surrounding the national parks.

Imagine the impact on our local communities – reduction in services, areas closed and a resulting reduced level of visitation. Zion National Park is currently underfunded and is experiencing a deferred maintenance backlog of over $70 million.

Our elected representatives need to be aware of these impacts and should be seeking increases, not cuts to one of the most effective agencies of the federal government.

The national parks are so important to our country. We are at risk of losing the very heritage we all cherish and love and that benefit us all.

Written by DONALD A. FALVEY

Lakewood, Colorado

Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.

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12 Comments

  • mmsandie June 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Well I was smart enough not to vote for Trumo, I don,t even think he has been to a national park to see their history and beauty,,and the income from tourist help support jobs, and state economics..
    He is a business man and risen,t care about nature

    • comments June 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      You’re probably right. He’s probably been too busy with sex tourism in Slovakia, Ukraine, etc. No time to visit Nat’l parks.

    • !!! June 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Well I was smart enough to vote for Trump. It’s good to see him start trimming the FAT somewhere. I doubt it will slow anything that we’ll notice. Maybe if he cut all the Federal agencies by , say, 50% we’d see the constant flow from our wallet slow down. I don’t think the “history and beauty” will change over this. If it is a problem close the gate.

  • Chris June 20, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I’d worry but the budget is DOA in Congress. Park service spending means dollars in Congressmen’s districts, many of whom in the west are influential Republicans. The public loves the parks (perhaps too much). It just does not make political sense to cut the money to them.

  • utah135 June 20, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Interesting article. I just read a few days ago that Zion is struggling with overcrowding currently. A recent news release from the park service actually encouraged locals not to come to the park. Fewer visitors might be a good thing. I highly doubt that an 8% budget cut will result in loss of our heritage as you exaggerated. I do think that often in my household when I have had to make cuts to the budget I often become more resourceful and use my existing resources more wisely. I think that this would be a wise move for many of our government agencies including the national parks. I think the local businesses that rely on tourism are resilient as they have survived the government shut downs of the past. That probably did a lot more damage than an 8% cut to the budget. I do agree that visitation increases have financial benefits but is there a correlation between increasing the budget and an increase in visitation? They could have made a 50% budget increase during the great recession and I don’t think visitation would have skyrocketed to save suffering local businesses.

  • Foxyheart June 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Sorry, but Springdale is hardly suffering. Look at all the new businesses being built right now. The place is a zoo. There is no real place to park. The only place is along the streets which are so dangerous because of the ‘historical’ irrigation ditches. The passenger getting out of the car has no chance to not get hurt. There are only 2 crosswalks in all of the town, people have to cross in front of cars. You are right, locals have no business being in the Park or the town…..we are being run out by the terrible food and lack of concern for those who make the town a year-round place.

  • Brian June 20, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Donald A. Falvey, do you vote liberal? Because the liberals have raised my healthcare costs 30% – 40% a year. If it happens again this fall my family will lose our healthcare (we’ve already lost our group plan through work, the employer had to cancel it due to the ridiculous obamacare cost increases). New Mexico Health Connections just asked for an 80% increase in premiums for 2018.

    And you’re griping about a 13% budget cut? Welcome to the club. We all have to tighten our belts together. Government is bigger than every before and growing like a cancer. Everything should be cut (including the overall military budget; take it out of the $27M bombs we’re using to blow up a cave and the $100k stinger missiles we’re using to blow up a Toyota pickup).

    Frankly, the national parks should have to live within their means like the rest of us. They should pay for themselves through entrance fees. If you need more open a lemonade stand. (Oh, wait, liberals are outlawing those, too; kids may learn something awful, like capitalism)

  • Caveat_Emptor June 20, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I believe that a majority of taxpayers support the National Park System’s mission, and are willing to fund a portion of the cost of running the overall system.
    However, I think it is only fair to require a more substantial portion of the operating cost of each site to be paid by its visitors. While we enjoy the “Mighty Five” here in Southern Utah, and draw a huge volume of visitors from out of state, or outside of the United States, entrance fees and revenue from concessions should be directed exclusively to these parks. At some point, we will find that budget funds are being allocated to parks that see minimal visitation. So, perhaps we need to figure out if there are too many “National Parks”.
    It seems like we have an opportunity to figure out a more sustainable funding model for the NPS, so that the folks who take advantage of these unique places pay their fair share of the cost of operations, including getting a jump on their “to do” lists.
    Gateway towns, such as Springdale, enjoy significant business revenue as a result of their proximity to the parks. They should be funding their own infrastructure improvements from this revenue base…….

    • comments June 20, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      agree w/ you and brian here. with a gazillion visitors a year zion should be flush with cash. If they’re not you gotta wonder where all that cash in going. Didn’t they recently raise the entry fees too? Gov’t waste actually is a big problem.

  • utahdiablo June 20, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Zion is so overcrowded already that it is a complete loss as to seeing it as a local, we already stopped going last year and tell our out of state family not to bother. All the new homes going up everywhere, yet we cannot keep a Sears open, or Dickies BBQ, Fatties, and many others as to food joints, but let’s keep building everywhere….oh it’s going to crash again and damn soon, then the real fun begins

  • r2d2 June 20, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    1200 ! I didn’t know they were that top heavy. I don’t see why they can’t stand on their there own. They’re just like the post office. Give me, give me, give me.

  • Craig June 21, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    I agree; however, we have a $20 trillion debt. I suspect the choices meeded to even begin to address this disaster we’re difficult.

    We and our elect d officials spent money we did not have. As with our own personal finances, there are consequences for bad choices.

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