Washington, DC — Chairman Raul M. Grijalva today hailed the release of the National Parks Second Century Commission’s report “Advancing the National Park Idea.” The report, authored by a distinguished bipartisan panel of environmental and public policy experts, reaffirms Congressman Grijalva’s call for stronger environmental protections, enhanced citizen stewardship, robust financing measures and other critical improvements to the nation’s environmental land management efforts.
“This report underscores the need for greater legislative commitment to our nation’s greatest natural treasures,” said Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee of National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “It reminds us that public spaces provide our greatest opportunity to enjoy our common heritage. These great national landscapes are our common property, whatever our political persuasions, and this report is a powerful call for all of us to join together in celebrating and preserving them.”
The committee, co-chaired by former senators J. Bennett Johnston and Howard Baker, said in the report, “National parks are the sources of some of our purest water and storehouses of our continent’s surviving biodiversity. The National Park Service safeguards an encyclopedic array of irreplaceable resources at the heart of defining landscapes, watching over icons like bison grizzly bears, and redwood trees, homes where heroes were born and building where history was made.” The report strongly recommends the creation of new national parks, collaborative models and conservation corridors “to foster ecosystem and cultural connectivity,” as well as expanding public learning opportunities within the parks, better equipping the Park Service to carry out its historical and scientific research mission, and creating stable funding mechanisms for national land “beyond the vagaries of the annual budget cycle.”
The report also points out that, nationwide, the national park system generates $13.3 billion in local, private sector economic activity and supports 267,000 private sector jobs. Describing the system as “a vital economic engine,” the report calls on the business community to embrace systems ecology and collaborative decision-making as the country enters a new phase of public lands management geared toward popular, rather than narrow, economic benefit.
“This report makes it clearer than ever that our public land is one of our country’s greatest resources, and that Congress needs to ensure that its value does not diminish from neglect or lack of care,” said Congressman Grijalva. “Rather than viewing public lands policy as a competition between environmental and economic interests, this report shows us how a fair balance can be struck to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from our common land well into the future.”