I was alarmed to learn that the sequester, or across-the-board budget cuts, could continue for another year.
As an elected official for the city of Homestead, which benefits from the 1.5 million annual visitors to neighboring Biscayne and Everglades national parks, residents and I are concerned about what these prolonged and arbitrary budget cuts could mean for the viability and future of our national parks.
Everglades National Park alone supports almost $147 million in annual visitor spending and almost 2,400 local jobs. These across-the-board cuts are not just hurting the amazing places people love to visit, they also harm the gateway communities such as Homestead that depend on visitors to lodge, dine, shop, gather information and purchase supplies on their way to the nearby national parks.
Before Congress left for recess, it shared two funding bills with completely opposite visions for our national parks — a House bill that cuts even deeper, affecting rangers, visitor centers and campgrounds, and a Senate bill that would get our parks on the road to recovery.
Polling shows that nine out of 10 American voters — Republican, Democrat and independent — do not want park funding cut further. In addition, this year both the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties passed resolutions supporting national park funding.
Congress and the president need to work together, listen to communities across the country and end the budget impasse so that they can restore funding for our country’s most treasured places.
Stephen R. Shelley, member,
city council, Homestead