Tropical Storm Arlene, Impending Hurricanes Threaten National Parks, Says National Parks Conservation Association
WASHINGTON, June 10 -- The nonpartisan park advocacy group National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today warned that Tropical Storm Arlene threatens several national parks on the Gulf Coast, voicing concern that costly damages will strain the national parks’ tight budgets.
“Allstate doesn’t reimburse the national parks,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. “When hurricanes batter the national parks, their small budgets are battered, too.”
Several national parks are in the current path of Tropical Storm Arlene, including Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi. Gulf Islands was critically damaged in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan washed out several miles of roads, flooded historic buildings, a visitor center, and parking lots, and destroyed pavilions.
Last year, Hurricane Frances wiped out more than 1,000 sea turtle nests at Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore; Hurricane Jeanne destroyed the few hundred that remained. Hurricane Charley caused extensive damage to Dry Tortugas National Park. Hurricanes also affected Everglades National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway; The Kittatinny Point Visitor Center at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in New Jersey was flooded and roads and trails washed out. Storms last August also caused extensive flooding at Death Valley National Park in California, destroying roads and visitor facilities. Total system-wide damages to 26 national parks in eight states exceeded $50 million.
Congress provided emergency funding, but often, park managers have to divert funds from their annual budget to help pay for costly storm repairs. For instance, the National Park Service never received sufficient emergency funding necessary to recover from Hurricane Isabel, which caused nearly $100 million worth of damages at several national parks in 2003. At Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia, a basement of priceless artifacts was flooded.
NPCA’s 2005 report, Faded Glory: Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Parks, raises concerns about whether national parks have adequate funding and staffing to prepare for and recover from weather emergencies such as tropical storms and hurricanes. System-wide, national parks operate with shortfall in excess of $600 million annually. The report is available online at http://www.npca.org/report/investinparks.asp
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