National Parks

May 22, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


Once again, Americans by the millions will take to the road this summer to visit their national parks. But travelers will pay more to get into most of them, and to use the park campgrounds, boat ramps, beaches and back-country wilderness. They may also find that traffic jams, dwindling wildlife, and polluted air and water are eroding the wild and scenic qualities that the parks were created to preserve for all generations.

Without a firm commitment to protect threatened park resources, “the nation could lose the parks in all their splendor,” Conservation Foundation President William K. Reilly has warned. The National park Service is struggling to hold back environmental deterioration, both inside the parks and beyond their boundaries, and to balance conflicting demands. Ecologists contend that the park system preserves the nation's most spectacular mountains and canyons but still leaves vital landscapes unprotected.

As threats to the parks have grown, budget cutbacks have slowed the federal government's efforts to protect them. In a “State of the Parks” report to Congress in 1980, the Park Service listed more than 4,000 threats to park resources, more than half of them from outside park system boundaries. The congressional General Accounting Office reported this February that the Park Service has yet to follow through on plans to deal with them. The agency in 1985 finished spending $1 billion to repair and expand park building, water and sewer lines and others facilities that failed to meet health and safety standards. And the higher entrance fees going into effect this year are expected to yield $75 million annually for Park Service programs to study and protect natural values.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
National Parks
Jan. 17, 2014  National Parks
Oct. 06, 2006  National Parks Under Pressure
Jun. 16, 2000  Protecting the National Parks
May 28, 1993  National Parks
May 22, 1987  National Parks
Feb. 16, 1972  National Parks Centennial
National Parks and Reserves