National Park

National parks cannot continue to do more with less

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Senator Angus King is pushing for additional staff in national parks, and I wholeheartedly agree. For too long national parks have been asked to do more with less.

Attendance hit new records at national parks across the country in 2021, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Big Bend and Zion. Despite their growing popularity over the past decade, the Park Service‘s funding and staffing levels don’t match. From 2011 to 2019, the agency lost 16% of its workforce (more than 3,500 positions), and Maine national parks like Acadia are no different. Acadia’s attendance has soared — a record four million visitors in 2021 — but the park continues to struggle with understaffing as overstretched rangers multitask as emergency responders, educators , maintenance workers, traffic controllers, wildlife biologists and more.

King’s vital funding request would bring more than 4,400 employees back into the parks service, providing staffing levels he hasn’t seen in more than a decade. It’s a good start and a necessary start if we want our parks to continue to welcome millions of people every year.

Congress now has the opportunity to address this issue. I urge Senators King and Susan Collins to support this effort and work with their colleagues to ensure that our national parks receive the funding and staff they need to protect some of our country’s most irreplaceable natural and cultural resources. country for generations to come.

Sheridan Steele

Former Superintendent

Acadia National Park

Mount Desert