The national parks are suffering from huge budget shortfalls and maintenance backlogs, so it is good news to hear about the National Parks Centennial Initiative . This project aims to raise $100 million per year in government funding for ten years so long as the money is matched by private donors. That would generate $2 billion for improving visitors’ facilities, restoring hiking trails, saving the habitat of endangered species, and in other ways preserving our national parks.
But the grand ambitions are also running up against political resistance: Congress has come up with only $25 million of the $100 million that the initiative needs for this year, which, with matching funds, means that some $50 million is now available. Furthermore, the Centennial Initiative depends upon raising money from corporations and volunteer groups, and not on federal funding alone. (Will product placement and advertising follow?) Fifty million dollars to help renovate our national parks is welcome, of course, but shouldn’t our taxes be sufficient to save our parks on their 100th anniversary? The project feels like organizing a bake sale to save some of the most awesome spots on the continent.