As Congress approaches another deadline on the federal budget, a new Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center analysis, entitled Death by a Thousand Cuts, exposes the challenges facing Crater Lake National Park as a result of mounting funding cuts to the National Park Service.
“At Crater Lake National Park, sequester cuts led to a budget reduction of $264,000,” said Rikki Seguin, conservation advocate with Environment Oregon. “We don’t want a death by a thousand cuts for Crater Lake National Park.”
Crater Lake National Park provides critical habitat for wildlife like Roosevelt elk, black bears, and bald eagles, and the surrounding forests shelter the headwaters of the Rogue, Umpqua and Deschutes rivers, where Chinook and Coho salmon spawn. Visitors to the park have been enjoying opportunities for hiking and exploring since 1902, the year Crater Lake National Park was opened.
Parks closures during last fall’s government shutdown capped off the third straight year in which Congress cut funding to the National Park Service operating budget. Additional cuts from the March 2013 sequester make for a 13 percent reduction in funding for our parks in today’s dollars over this period.
Death by a Thousand Cuts gives concrete examples of how Oregon’s only National Park has been affected by the funding cuts:
· $264,000 was cut from the park’s budget
· Six fulltime staff positions were forced to remain unfilled
· Seasonal staff hours were reduced
“Let’s give our parks a fresh start in 2014,” added Seguin. “If we continue on this path, our grandchildren could be forced to explore parking lots and fracking wells instead of river valleys and mountaintops.”
While the budget deal passed in December may allow for some increase in the parks budget, it is up to Congressional spending committees to decide the actual funding levels this month.
“We urge Senator Merkley to continue standing up for places like Crater Lake National Park by ensuring they’re provided the full funding they desperately need during the upcoming budget negotiations,” Seguin concluded. “Oregon park lovers are counting on it.”
Read the full report here.