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Paying Attention to the Parks

A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently announced the formation of the National Parks Caucus, aimed at raising awareness of and ensuring adequate funding for national parks. Founded by Reps. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) and Brian Baird (D-Wash.), the caucus’ co-chairmen, the group currently includes 32 House Members. [IMGCAP(1)]

“Right now, Mr. Souder is very keen to ensure that our parks receive adequate funding. It’s been clear over the last couple of years since Sept. 11, 2001, that the National Park Service has been given additional responsibilities in homeland security, anti-narcotics and immigration issues — they have put a strain on the National Park Service budget,” said Souder spokesman Martin Green.

The National Park System includes some 388 areas covering more than 83 million acres in 49 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. In 2003, nearly 267 million visitors flocked to the nation’s parks. The NPS has an operating budget of $1.61 billion.

— Bree Hocking

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