American Parks in Trouble: 10 Most Endangered 2003

WASHINGTON, DC, January 14, 2003 (ENS) - Insufficient funding undermines protection of Montana's Glacier National Park. A new city may grow on private land adjoining California's Joshua Tree National Park, and pollution from coal burning power plants dims the air over Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Hazy day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo courtesy National Park Service)
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today released its annual list of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks, detailing these problems and many others at five new parks and five the group has listed before.

"Designation as a national park alone doesn't protect our parks," said NPCA senior vice president Ronald Tipton. "Parks also need strong support from the President and Congress. The Bush administration needs to halt its attacks on national parks and provide the protections our nation's treasures need."

Administration actions that damage parks, the association says, include changes to the Clean Air Act that will allow polluting industries to install new equipment without modern pollution controls, regulations that could lead to new road building in national parks, and failure to follow up adequately on campaign promises for better park funding.

"An increasing number of the Administration's actions are directly harming our national parks," Tipton said. "For an administration that pledged to 'restore and renew' the parks, this is particularly distressing. The American people need actions that demonstrate the pledge was more than just campaign spin."

Parks on this year's list, in alphabetical order, are:

The National Parks Conservation Association delisted a number of parks this year because conditions affecting them have improved.

The Big Bend National Park in Texas was removed from the list because a conservation trust plans to purchase water rights from willing irrigators to maintain instream flows, and a U.S./Mexico work group plans to restore native vegetation within and upstream of the park.

The Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida was listed last year with Everglades National Park. It was removed this year because the Bush administration has promised to buy mineral rights there from a company that planned to build exploratory wells and use dynamite to find oil deposits.

Federal Hall National Memorial in New York was taken off the list because the House of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee in December approved the largest increase ever for the operating needs of parks such as Federal Hall.

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Whale breaches in Glacier Bay National Park (Photo courtesy NPS)
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska was removed because the park is conducting an environmental impact study for cruise ship quotas and operating requirements in the park.

The Mojave National Preserve in California is off this year's list because a proposed private groundwater storage and delivery system was rejected by Southern California's Metropolitan Water District.

Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania was delisted since the Park Service is negotiating to buy private lands set aside for development and, with the state transportation department, is deploying traffic to improve park protection.

"The only way to preserve national parks is to address park threats," said NPCA president Thomas Kiernan. "By worsening air quality in the parks, minimal follow through on park funding, and overall weakening of many environmental laws, the Bush administration has shown that it is not yet a friend of the national parks. The American people must pressure the administration and its allies in Congress to protect and restore America's precious national parks."