National parks deserve funding

We love the Great Basin National Park. The more people discover its beauty, the more people enjoy the splendor and majesty of Nevada.

That’s why it is disappointing to hear that the Great Basin National Park visitor center will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the winter.
The federal government, as we all know, is going through a belt-tightening exercise. Or, at least it is trying to trim the old budget. The National Park Service has cut 5 percent from its budget, and that’s having a ripple effect through the system.

The Park Service will hire about 1,000 fewer seasonal employees, cutting into programs and visitor availability. The cutbacks will also include, for example, the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which opened two weeks late this spring due to cuts in snow-plowing costs. Bryce Canyon National Park will experience similar delays. The interpretive site at the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, will remain closed.

We understand the pressures and the partisan politics in Washington, D.C., these days. We also understand, and support, a reduction in federal deficit spending. Right now, the only way even modest cuts can be made is to make them via arbitrary, across the board cuts. Sequestration is what Washington calls it.

We’ve got to transcend that approach. The budget can be cut without making stupid cuts. The cutbacks taking place right now at Great Basin, and at other National Park Service facilities, seem picayune to us. Our national park system is there to be enjoyed. To reduce that enjoyment in this way reminds us of how much we need to take a Mr.-Smith-Goes-To-Washington approach to Washington decisions. Washington works for the people, not the other way around.

We urge our U.S. senators, Harry Reid and Dean Heller, our governor, Brian Sandoval, our U.S. representative, Steven Horsford, and as many other federal and state office holders to join us in working to keep open our national parks to as many visitors as possible. We can’t imagine that the federal budget hangs in the balance of a 5 percent cut at these priceless American assets.
Let’s drop the Ds and Rs behind our titles and, at least when it comes to the National Park Service, do the right thing. — SF

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