Restore parks and create opportunity
America today misses a history-making opportunity: the chance to carry into the future a feature that permanently makes America great: our star-spangled national parks. I write to support the priority of this for West Virginia — where we have important, but imperiled, national parks.
Here in West Virginia, I see daily the economic, recreational and cultural benefits enjoyed by West Virginians living in the communities surrounding our own eight national park sites.
From New River Gorge National River to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, visitors spent $73.8 million in gateway communities in 2018. That supported 1,050 jobs in the state and resulted in an economic output of $89 million to the West Virginia economy.
These are at risk as the parks rack up deferred maintenance costs. Despite the undisputed value of national parks to West Virginia’s economy, collectively they require only $62 million in repairs, peanuts given their priceless value for us to day and even more for generations to come. Spending this money also grows jobs in our economy–and we need work today.
I urge members of Congress to pass S. 500, legislation that will provide dedicated funding. Please take bipartisan action and make restoration a priority.
Come on, America, what are our priorities?
The great investments have been made, first by Nature and next in their legislative creation. I know personally great national parks. I led in creating seven national parks around the world. Two are the Mount Everest national parks. Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Preserve in China is three times the size of Yellowstone, and the adjacent Makalu-Barun National Park in Nepal is the size of Rhode Island.
Every national park brings jobs and boosts economies — directly hiring local people to work in the parks, and from the tourism with the businesses surrounding them, including hotels, restaurants, outfitters, and eco-tourism ventures.
We need this today in West Virginia … and for generations yet to come they give life-transforming appreciation of our world.
Daniel C. Taylor
Future Generations University