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Published by The Daily Caller

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Published by: The Daily Caller on Oct 29, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1Dear Taxpayer, Visitors to national parks have been threatened with being charged for trespassing,obstructed from paying their respects at a memorial to those who lost their lives inservice to our country, and turned away from other sites closed due to a lack of funding. All of this began occurring
the government shutdown in October.Perhaps more than any other part of the federal government, our National Park Systemhas become the unfortunate symbol of the dysfunction in Washington, DC. Thesecherished natural landmarks and national memorials, which were entrusted to theNational Park Service to be preserved and protected, have instead been neglected orabused for political gamesmanship.Long before the government shutdown and sequestration, congressionalshortsightedness and bureaucratic mismanagement were already plaguing our nationalparks. Barricaded parks across the country exposed the calamity in Washington in2013, but the National Park System has long been a microcosm of the irresponsible andmisplaced priorities within the entire federal budget. Just as important programs like
projects, Washington has also plundered the National Park Service budget to create new parks and programs with little national significance. And as the lack of budgetdiscipline has driven up the national debt and jeopardized the solvency of retirement
rks budget areendangering the care of the very sites we all revere.Our elected representatives have been too focused on their own parochial politicalinterests to see the state of disrepair that has befallen some of our greatest nationaltreasures. For example, the National Mall
clearly visible from the Capitol and WhiteHouse
has become a national disgrace, trampled upon and worn out.Politicians would rather take credit for creating a new park in their community thancaring for the parks that already exist. There is, after all, no ribbon cutting ceremony fortaking out the trash, fixing a broken railing or filling a pothole.But failing to conduct maintenance endangers the longevity of our parks and experienceof their visitors. Last year alone, the National Park Service put off more than a quarter billion dollars in much needed maintenance projects, adding to the $11.5 billiondeferred maintenance backlog already threatening the health, safety, and accessibility of park visitors.The ever growing maintenance cost has not stopped those in Washington from addingnew parks, programs, and property to the Park Service. This year, mere days aftersequestration caused the delay in the opening of and shorter hours at national parks, the
2President single handedly established three new National Park units. Likewise,Congress spent $57 million to purchase more property for the parks
some land fornearly $1 million per acre. No one would purchase a new car while ignoring a leakingceiling or broken pipes in their own home, but that is essentially what Washington isdoing with our national parks.
misplaced priorities. Much like the accrual of our $17 trillion national debt over time,the build-
out-of-control spending addiction that puts off doing what is necessary for doing what isself-serving. Whether it be the uncertainty of future U.S. treasury markets or thetenuous state of a corroded water pipe and an aging utility system, the unsustainabletrajectory of deficits and deferrals make it only a matter of time before all willexperience failure.This report,
will expose how Washington is failing to properly maintain ourmost enduring and treasured sites and symbols and where your tax dollars intended forthese parks is being spent instead. It also provides commonsense recommendations toensure that those parks and memorials with true national significance are given the carethey deserve so their beauty and significance to our history is preserved for futuregenerations.Sincerely,Tom A. Coburn, M.D.U.S. Senator

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