Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Tina Kreisher, 202-208-6416
For Immediate Release: July 8, 2004 Hugh Vickery, 202-501-4633
Interior Secretary Norton Releases Report Showing Record Funding to Support National Parks
America's National Parks - Investing to Preserve Their Future

WASHINGTON - Secretary Gale Norton today released a report showing record levels of funds are being invested to increase staff and improve facilities at America's national parks, including more than 4,000 improvement projects.

"The Park Service's operations budget of $1.8 billion is 20 percent higher than when President Bush took office," Norton said. "The budget has more funds per employee, per acre, and per visitor than at any time in the history of the National Park Service."

Overall, the President's budget request for park operations and construction at $2.4 billion for 2005 is 20 percent higher than 2001.

"Visitors are seeing improved trails, more accessible campgrounds, rehabilitated visitor centers, better roads, stabilized historic structures and reduced environmental threats through better sewer, water and drinking systems," she said.

Norton noted that the Park Service has been funded better than other non-defense agencies in recent decades. National Park operating funds have increased 352 percent since 1980 compared to overall domestic increases of 138 percent. Service staffing is expected to reach 20,637 in 2005, an increase of 829 employees over the 2000 level.

The report shows that President Bush has made substantial progress for his three priorities for the national parks: improving repair and maintenance of facilities, preserving natural resources, and protecting visitors and employees.

"President Bush is meeting his commitment to invest $4.9 billion to address the national park maintenance backlog," Norton said. "The 4,000 projects will enhance visitors' experiences and improve management in all 49 states that have parks."

The report shows the administration also has tripled funding to preserve and study wildlife and other natural resources in national parks. These investments range from removing invasive plants that damage ecosystems to conserving threatened and endangered species like sea turtles and cutthroat trout.

To increase visitor and employee safety, the administration has increased the National Park Service law enforcement budgets by 23.5 percent since 2001. the Park Police budget has increased 39 percent.

While the administration has emphasized the importance of taking care of existing parks, the report lists new parks and park additions including a civil war site in Virginia, a memorial to honor World War II veterans, and a site to honor the memory of the heroes of Flight 93.The administration also has designated hundreds of thousands of acres of parks as wilderness and proposed a new Lewis and Clark Historical Park.

The report, which will be available on line at, includes a state-by-state summary of the 4,000 projects.