skip navigation
Support KUOW
KUOW News

National Parks in Trouble, Say Members of Congress

Austin Jenkins
09/13/2005

America's National Parks. The President HAS increased funding. But overall, critics say the nation's crown jewels are deteriorating. One Republican member of Congress is so concerned he's holding hearings around the nation. His latest stop? Bellevue, Washington. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

TRANSCRIPT

"(GAVEL) Subcommittee will come to order."

CONGRESSMAN MARK SOUDER OF FORT WAYNE, INDIANA CONVENED THE FIELD HEARING ON SEATTLE'S EASTSIDE - THE LATEST IN A TWO-YEAR INVESTIGATION. SOUDER IS BEST KNOWN FOR INVESTIGATING STEROID USE BY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS. BUT HIS OTHER PASSION IS RESTORING AMERICA'S NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.

REP. SOUDER: "If these parks are to remain, we must work to provide solutions so that future generations can enjoy what we have today.

THE NORTHWEST IS HOME TO MORE THAN A DOZEN NATIONAL PARKS AND MONUMENTS INCLUDING MT. RAINIER IN WASHINGTON, CRATER LAKE IN OREGON AND CRATERS OF THE MOON IN IDAHO. BUT THE NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION OR N.P.C.A., A NON-PARTISAN WATCHDOG GROUP, SAYS THESE TOURIST DESTINATIONS ARE UNDER-FUNDED. FOR INSTANCE AT WASHINGTON'S OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK THE NUMBER OF SEASONAL RANGERS HAS DROPPED FROM 130 TO JUST 25 IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS. SALLY JEWEL IS AN N.P.C.A. BOARD MEMBER AND CEO OF OUTDOOR RETAILER R.E.I.

JEWELL: "I know that this is a time of sadness in our country. I know that there will be many resources that are directed toward the hurricane damaged areas. It's just like private philanthropy. We can't allow other things, other needs in our country to go unmet as we respond to this catastrophe. I really think we need to do both.

JEWELL TESTIFIED BEFORE REPRESENTATIVE SOUDER AND THREE MEMBERS OF WASHINGTON'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION - AMONG THEM JAY INSLEE, A DEMOCRAT. WHILE EVERYONE SEEMS TO AGREE THE FUTURE OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM IS A BIPARTISAN ISSUE, INSLEE COULDN'T RESIST TAKING A SWIPE ACROSS THE AISLE AS HE ADDRESSED A PANEL OF PARK SUPERINTENDENTS.

INSLEE: "It's just a crying shame what's going on and it's not because of what you are doing, it's what Congress is not doing which is funding the National Parks. And the reason it's not doing it is it's sacrificing your budget on the alter of tax cuts and I hate to be the skunk at the picnic party, but that's what's going on.

CONGRESSMAN SOUDER, THE REPUBLICAN CHAIR, RESPONDED THAT IT'S TIME TO GET CREATIVE ABOUT HOW THE PARK SERVICE IS FUNDED AND STAFFED. ONE EXAMPLE: ALLOWING TAXPAYERS TO MARK A BOX ON THEIR INCOME TAX RETURN DEDICATING MONEY TO A NATIONAL PARKS FUND. THAT PROPOSAL IS CO-SPONSORED BY SOUDER AND DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN BRIAN BAIRD OF SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON.

I'M AUSTIN JENKINS REPORTING.

© Copyright 2005, KPLU

Related Links

KUOW does not endorse or control the content viewed on these links as they appear now or in the future.

spacer

12.10.18

Schedules

spacer