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Ohio's National Parks Brace for Budget Decision


Friday, November 22, 2013   

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The future of some of Ohio's most treasured places remains uncertain as budget negotiations continue in Washington.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) estimates Ohio lost more than $3 million in visitor spending when its national parks were closed during the government shutdown.

John Garder, the NPCA's budget director, says he is concerned about future decisions that will impact the vitality of places, such as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park or Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

"The shutdown of the federal government and the closure of all our national parks,” he explains, “was a more dramatic chapter in an otherwise troubling history that is threatening the care of our national treasures, threatening the opportunity for Americans to visit these places, and threatening the economies of local communities."

Garder adds the NPCA's own bipartisan polling showed that nine in 10 Americans don't want national park funding to be cut.

Cuts have already forced Ohio's parks to reduce staff and operating hours, and cancel programming.

The new federal budget deal is due Dec. 13 and two Ohioans – House Majority Leader John Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman – are on the committee.

Deb Yandala, who heads the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, says national parks are critical to the state's health and heritage, and are part of maintaining a good quality of life.

"Ohio is a wonderful place to live,” she says. “It's also a place that people love to visit, to come as tourists, and they come in part to see our parks. Our parks need to be well-kept, well-funded, well-staffed in order to have a quality that the American public expects."

With more than 2 million annual visitors, Yandala says Ohio's parks also are a significant economic driver, and provide 900 private-sector jobs.

She adds National Park Service funding makes up one-fifteenth of one percent of the entire federal budget.

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