From the Vietnam Memorial to Canyonlands, the National Park Service preserves America's greatest treasures. Our parks also support the healthy transition of veterans home from war by providing real opportunities for the military and their families to heal and connect with our shared heritage. Yet these opportunities are at risk due to inadequate funding.
Our parks not only inspire visitors, but support local economies with $31 billion of private-sector spending and 258,000 jobs. Veterans fill many of those jobs.
Our national parks cost us less than 1 percent of our federal budget. After two years of declining funding, national parks face the threat of additional devastating cuts through the looming "sequester" scheduled for January 2013.
If Congress doesn't agree on a budget, the National Park Service could face cuts of as much as 10 percent, meaning closed visitor centers, closed campgrounds, closed park sites and thousands of rangers and other park employees out of a job.
National parks, "America's best idea," are some of the best opportunities for supporting and welcoming home our military community. We can't afford to let them fall through the cracks in the midst of the federal budget debate. Too much is at stake.
Salt Lake City