Are Georgia parks underfunded in NPS budget?

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

0point33percent_bannerThe National Park Service has announced that almost $2.5 million of its American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies will be spent on parks in Georgia. That’s about 1/3 of a percent—that is, 0.33%—of the full $750 million budget that will be spent in our state.* The national budget will be spent on nearly 800 projects. In Georgia, money will go to (in decreasing order of money to be spent):

    Chattahoochee River—for construction, maintenance, and upgrades / $736,000
    Kennesaw Mountain—green improvements / $700,000
    Chickamauga and Chattanooga—for maintenance and to interface with the Youth Conservation Corps / $380,000
    Andersonville—to address three maintenance problems / $181,000
    Cumberland Island—green improvements; rehabilitation of dormitories / $162,000
    Martin Luther King, Jr.—building stabilization / $146,000
    Fort Pulaski—green improvements / $70,000
    Jimmy Carter—rehabilitation of walking trail / $55,000
    Ocmulgee—upgrade theater doors to meet ADA requirements / $15,000

Note that every one of these parks, like many US National Parks, includes an archaeological and historic preservation component, like historic standing buildings, historic landscapes, and prehistoric and historic archaeological sites. Certainly, federal stimulus monies that support stewardship of our national heritage is very important, and deciding which projects to fund can not have been easy.

One-fiftieth of the national budget of $750 million would be $15 million. If funding were proportional by state, then $15 million would be what Georgia would get. Since we’re only getting just under $2.5 million, it would seem that Georgia is disproportionately underfunded in the NPS budget, getting only about 16.6% of an equal (1/50th) portion of the total budget.

How do you feel about this? Comments are open!

Across the country, NPS projects are intended to preserve and protect national icons and historic landscapes, to make “green improvements” (especially to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use), to remediate abandoned mine lands, and to provide $15 million in grants to protect and restore buildings at historically black colleges and universities. In addition, funding through the Federal Highway Administration will improve park roads. For comparison, here are some non-Georgia projects the NPS budget is funding:

    $54.7 million to undertake six mitigation projects to prepare for the removal of the Elwha Dam and restoration of the Elwha River basin at Olympic National Park in Washington
    $30.5 million to repair the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.
    $13.1 million to demolish and replace condemned portions of the Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah
    $11.5 million to replace more than 5 miles of water lines at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado
    $8.8 million to stabilize the Ellis Island Baggage and Dormitory Building, one of the most significant structures at Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island in New York and New Jersey
    $7.3 million to restore the District of Columbia War Memorial at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C.
    $7 million for the first phase of renovating the 352-foot monument that commemorates Oliver Hazard Perry’s naval victory during the War of 1812, at Perry’s Victory and International and Peace Memorial in Ohio
    $5.5 million to rehabilitate Independence Hall Tower at Independence National Historical Park in Pennsylvania
    $5 million to replace the roof of the historic Old Courthouse at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in Missouri

Note that every one of these projects will receive more money than the parks across the whole state of Georgia will receive. Reminder: comments are open!

For a listing of the Georgia projects, click here. For a list of all NPS projects, by state, including Georgia, click here. These are current as of late April 2009. Also, here’s the link to the NPS Recovery Investments webpage.

NPS is slated to get $700 million of the Department of the Interior’s full stimulus budget of more than $3 billion.