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The bureaucrats in charge of U.S. national parks and forests are $17.2 billion dollars in the hole, according to a new report by the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).
The report found the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) owe billions in backlogged expenses and aren’t trying to fix the problem, as they’re still almost completely reliant on Congress for funding. NPS and USFS can make significant reductions to the backlog without budget increases by reducing costs and slashing red tape, a Congressional committee reported Thursday in a hearing. The committee also noted that both agencies previously resisted similar advice.
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“The Park Service is almost entirely reliant on Congress for funding,” Shawn Regan, a researcher with PERC, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Very little comes from user fees. There are benefits to having parks become more self-sufficient when possible.”
Currently, NPS owes almost $12 billion in deferred maintenance and other backlogged expenses, meaning that the agency would need to spend five times the amount it gets every year from Congress to fix its maintenance backlog, which is expected to grow each year. The USFS has a similar backlog of roughly $5.2 billion.
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“Politicians would much rather create a new park than fund existing parks and that’s the problem,” Regan said. “From 2006 we had 390 national park units. We have 417 today. This growth in the number of park units doesn’t come with new funding, it spreads the NPS’ resources thinner and thinner and makes the problem worse.”
Much of the enormous backlog facing the two agencies is caused by expanding operations at the expense of basic maintenance. The NPS added 18 new units to the national parks system since 2009, costing the agency an enormous amount of money. As the mission of NPS expanded, the agency became increasingly unable...
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