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Know the West

Parks deserve robust budgets


Thank you for your article on the national parks and cultural diversity ("Parks For All?" HCN, 5/12/14). However, it contained a critical error about the government shutdown and the Utah national parks. You wrote, "During last fall's federal shutdown, states like Utah took over some national parks, fueling calls from some locals for permanent control." In reality, Utah never "took over" national parks in the state. Rather, the state government provided funds for the National Park Service to reopen Utah parks after the local economy began to wither when these parks closed.

Despite their struggles with diversity, national parks and monuments are a huge draw for national and international visitors. Studies show that national monuments run by multiple-use agencies like the BLM and Forest Service primarily draw local visitors with far less benefit for regional economies than Park Service-run units. Those who fantasize about states taking over national parks and monuments would be sabotaging their local economies as well as the parks themselves if they got their way.

The National Park Service is a key asset to our nation, as protector of our heritage and as a source of conservation and cultural education and economic activity. The national parks are community centers that deserve a permanent endowment and robust budget increases.

Tom Ribe
Santa Fe, New Mexico