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Old 04-19-2009, 12:15 PM   #1
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Default 'Belt tightening not enough' for DNR

'Belt tightening not enough' for DNR
By Sheri McWhirter
smcwhirter@record-eagle.com

Traverse City Record-Eagle - 'Belt tightening not enough' for DNR
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"We have been operating with no general fund support for five years and we're just hanging on," she said. "We've been trimming costs. We're not filling all vacancies and we've been trimming programs. We're to a point where belt-tightening is not enough."

"When you have a park system that's 90 years old, you have some infrastructure that has not been as well maintained," she said.
Chronic Wasting Disease, Great Lakes invasive species, and a proposed Theme park iin Crawford County were also mentioned.
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:17 AM   #2
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"No general fund support." Am I reading that correctly to say the government has given no money to the national parks for the last five years?
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:54 AM   #3
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More on funding the National Parks:

Don Leal on Self-Supporting National Parks : PERC - The Property and Environment Research Center

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Moreover, park budgets have become political footballs. Raising money via allocations from the treasury has been a matter of first denying customer service or letting park facilities run down in order to provide the necessary political impetus to free up more money for parks. For example, in the spring of 1996 the Superintendent of Yellowstone Park announced that two museums and a popular campground would be closed for the summer in an effort to save $70,000--the cost of operating these facilities during the year. While Yellowstone's allocated operating budget had increased over the previous year, it apparently had not increased enough to keep these facilities open. The campground actually earned more than it cost to operate all three facilities for the year. However, since the revenues went to the treasury and not to the park, park management had little economic incentive to keep them open,and a lot of political incentive to close them.

More Tax Dollars Do Not Lead To Well-maintained Parks
Contrary to the view that tax-supported parks guarantees long-term protection, our national parks have suffered from poor incentives to maintain our parks. The Park Service says it has a $4.5 billion backlog of construction improvements and an $800 million backlog of major maintenance.

Are we to assume that our parks have fallen victim of a budget-conscience Congress? From 1980 to 1995, the total budget of the Park Service nearly doubled, from almost $700 million to about $1.3 billion. Spending on operations, which includes staffing and wage increases, grew at a healthy inflation-adjusted annual rate of 3.1 percent, and full-time staff increased from 15,836 to 17,216 employees--more than enough to handle visitation which grew by less than 1.5 percent a year. While spending on the agency itself increased, spending for major park repairs and renovations fell at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of 1.5 percent.
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