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We reflect and update as HIV/AIDS first came to national attention 40 years ago this month; and when it comes to infrastructure spending, bipartisanship isn't dead yet.


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Biscayne National Park's 40th Birthday: Party or Problems?

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 By Gina Presson/Elizabeth Grattan, Contact
October 17, 2008

Miami, FL - As Miami's Biscayne National Park celebrates its 40th birthday with a three-day party, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) wants to make sure the public also knows about the problems facing the park, so the organization is hosting a forum on the topic.

Biscayne is the largest marine park in the National Park system. Jason Bennis, NPCA's marine program manager, says his group's most recent assessment is that the combined lack of funding and staffing threaten the park's future.

"There are some serious challenges facing the park that hamper its ability to protect and restore Biscayne's treasures, which include coral reefs, 18th century shipwrecks, and a whole host of plants and wildlife."

Nearly half a million people visit the park each year, pumping more than $20 million into the local economy. In order to keep the business booming, says Bennis, the park must get sufficient funding to protect its more than 100 archaeological sites. They include 44 shipwrecks, which serve as diving and snorkeling destinations and as habitat for marine life.

"It's important that we preserve the opportunity for folks to take advantage of the wonderful resources of Biscayne National Park, for this generation as well as future generations."

The report also concludes the park needs more rangers to protect the sites from relic hunters and poachers. It also notes that inadequate freshwater flows to the park jeopardize both the coral reefs and the fisheries. This weekend's forum is open to the public.

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