SALT LAKE CITY — Wednesday in Washington a congressional committee heard from those who know most about how we can improve our national parks.
The parks are busier than ever, and that means all sorts of new problems. The bottom line, from the woman in charge of the National Parks Conservation Association, we are loving our national parks to death.
We here in Utah have the so-called mighty five national parks. They draw millions of visitors every year which brings in billions of dollars in revenue. But, Kristen Brengel told members of Congress a few of her concerns. Among them, the parks need to be more welcoming to people of color and other foreign visitors.
She also said when one park is busy, simply having the crowds move over to another park basically just shifts the problem.
One of her biggest concerns is the dramatic decrease in the number of people who are actually working at our national parks.
“Between 2011 and 2019, NPS lost 16% of its staff capacity. The result is, staff take on multiple, collateral duties. It’s not uncommon to find trail crews attending to busy restrooms or law enforcement helping with parking. It’s a huge problem!”
She goes on to say that simply raising visitor, user fees also is not a sustainable answer, that it disproportionately impacts people in the lower income bracket.
She says another huge issue is that with more people visiting National parks the number of search and rescue operations has risen dramatically over the past several years.
Those are also very costly. Members of this congressional committee are now taking these suggestions under advisement.