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2007 budget to cut $100 million from National Parks - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Feb 7th, 2006 11:39 am
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javal1
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Offered without comment - from Washington Post:


This department would face a nearly 3 percent cut under Bush's $10.5 billion budget proposal, but as with all the secretaries whose departments took cuts, Interior's Gale A. Norton said the agency would be able to meet its responsibilities.

Bush wants to provide more money for energy development on public lands, something he has long championed, boosting the department's energy programs by 10 percent to a total of $467.5 million.

On the other hand it would cut $100 million from the current national parks budget, putting funding for national parks at $2.16 billion. The programs that would lose the most money include land acquisition, construction and maintenance.

Tom Kiernan of the National Parks Conservation Association said Bush's proposal does nothing to address the $600 million annual shortfall facing national parks and "likely means . . . higher entrance fees for fewer services in our parks."

 



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 Posted: Wed Feb 8th, 2006 12:31 am
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javal1
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Indy -

  I was really hoping you were posting "tongue-in-cheek", but somehow I don't think you are. I hope you'll allow me to disagree with you in the strongest of terms, and understand that it's not meant as a personal attack, but rather my opinion on your opinion of what a ranger does, and what a National Park needs.

   I'm not sure what fields you've been to, but let's use Gettysburg as an example since that's the best known. When you go there, and gaze across the Wheatfield, site of horrible 2nd day fighting, you see precisely that - a wheat field. When you gaze upon the Peach Orchard, you see just that - an orchard. How do you think they stay like that? What do you think they'd look like without the constant care and nuturing they get from the dedicated staff of rangers and other park workers? When you walk the fields of Picketts Charge, surely you don't expect it to be waist high with weeds and poison ivy. You expect it to somewhat resemble what it appeared to be in 1863. Do you think you could climb to the top of Little Round Top, were it not for the constant cutting and weeding, and path clearance? This takes people - people that dedicate their lives to keeping our history alive. It's not only their passion, but it's also their career. They have to be paid. It takes machinery, which has to be bought. It takes maintenance. And on and on.... And that takes money. And that's where these cuts come from.

The monuments you see, the cannon, the historic houses that sit upon the fields - they don't take care of themselves. I'm not really sure where you got the idea that all a park needs is someone to collect money in the Visitor's Center, but I assure you it's much more than that. Most battlefields have cemetery's which contain the remains of the men we honor. Ever think how much care it takes to keep those cemetery's looking so well-maintained? And that's not even counting the archivists, the archaeologists, the librarians, the firefighters, etc.

I hope others like Calcav will post here and try to explain better than I ever could how much more there is to it than you seem to think there is. Here's a job description for a park ranger:

Park Rangers supervise, manage and perform work in the conservation and use of resources in national parks and other federally-managed areas. Park Rangers carry out various tasks associated with forest or structural fire control; protection of property; gathering and dissemination of natural, historical, or scientific information; development of interpretive material for the natural, historical, or cultural features of an era; demonstration of folk art and crafts; enforcement of laws and regulations; investigation of violations, complaints, trespass/encroachment, and accidents; search and rescue; and management of historical, cultural, and natural resources, such as wildlife, forests, lakeshores, seashores, historic buildings, battlefields, archaeological properties, and recreation areas. They also operate campgrounds, including such tasks as assigning sites, replenishing firewood, performing safety inspections, providing information to visitors, and leading guided tours. Differences in the exact nature of duties depend on the grade of position, the site's size and specific needs.

I also want to point out that "National Parks" means alot more than Civil War Battlefields. Imagine what Yellowstone would like like without the care it gets. So when we talk about cuts in a program that has already run at a shortfall for decades, cuts in the amount of $100 million in a single year, it's very serious. You're correct that we should all pick up our trash while touring, but I implore you to think how much more there is to it than that. Again, none of this is meant as a personal attack, and I hope you won't take it that way. Just my opinion...

 



 Posted: Wed Feb 8th, 2006 03:19 am
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Harry
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A park ranger who is posted to a park that holds a National Treasure like a battlefield or an historic structure plays a very important part in helping to conserve, preserve and interpret that National Treasure. I should know. I work at a state park in Florida that holds a National Treasure. We take our job very seriously so that all may enjoy what we are tasked with to conserve, preserve, and interpret. But, we perform other tasks at our parks which are just as important--like keeping it clean and general maintenance. Any cuts to operational budgets certainly are not welcome. For way too long we have been asked to do more with less. It's a difficult balancing act, but somehow we manage without sacrificing visitor services, maintenance or interpretation.

All park systems--state and national are suffering. Unfortunately, our budgets are looked at first when some politician wants to employ the "guns vs butter" argument. Our budgets appear to the easiest to cut--the rational is that people don't go to parks, making them (parks) an easy target. Thank goodness there are many people and organizations out there to argue our case. And, thank goodness for Teddy Roosevelt, who had the foresight to establish the National Park System.

This is a budget proposal. Park-friendly lobby groups won't allow that parks budget to become a reality.



 Posted: Wed Feb 8th, 2006 02:05 pm
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David White
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Were the park cuts a deeper percentage cut than other govenrment agencies across the board?  It wasn't a "guns or butter" deal because DoD's budget was cut too, an almost unprecedented event while our nation is at war.  Granted the war fighting areas will be beefed up some but it was at the expense of new weapons.

The reality is we need the government to stop spending and unfortunately it will have to hurt, like kicking a powerfully addictive drug would for a person.  Unfortunately one party plays lip service to it, but neither does anything about it.



 Posted: Wed Feb 8th, 2006 02:14 pm
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javal1
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 It wasn't a "guns or butter" deal because DoD's budget was cut too, an almost unprecedented event while our nation is at war. 


Not according to all the articles I'm reading:

"Bush's own priorities are reflected in a proposed Defense Department budget 7 percent higher than this year's - $439 billion, without counting the additional costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is 48 percent more than the yearly defense spending that Bush inherited in 2001."



 Posted: Wed Feb 8th, 2006 02:37 pm
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David White
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Javal:

I stand corrected, apparently I was remembering that the Air Force's budget was cut, not the overall DoD.  As usual, it depends upon how you spin things as well. I had read stores like this and made some assumptions that weren't true:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/28/politics/main1248983.shtml

Frankly, if I were in charge I would just cut the F-22 out of the budget completely (heresy, I know on multiple counts) and give some of the money to the Park Service.

Regardless, I think my second paragraph was my real point, government can't continue to spend the way we are and expect this country to compete economically with India and China in the future.

Last edited on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 02:39 pm by David White



 Posted: Thu Feb 9th, 2006 01:09 am
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Harry
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David, the budget argument has been going on for years, as I'm sure you're aware. It's about establishing priorities. The kicker is that my priorities may not match yours, so we sit down and seek a compromise. The current reality though is that this president needs to find ways to pay for the faux paux that he got this country into. So, his people look at cutting what they think is the "fat" out of the budget. What's easier to cut--"guns or butter?" If we study what Lyndon Johnson did in 1964, I think we can see a parallel.



 Posted: Thu Feb 9th, 2006 02:34 pm
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David White
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Harry:

I don't see it as a guns or butter choice, all of it needs to be cut to maintain a healthy economy.  Government has never been able to spend and tax the country into prosperity.

However, regardless of how we got in Iraq,  right or wrong (and we could debate that all day long), we now have to do what it takes to win and despite what the press tries to imply, we are winning.  The only question will be, is it a short term victory or a long term one (and I will admit without the long term victory it probably wasn't worth it and will be a strategic loss, however based on history and intelligence, I don't think the president had a choice other than to take Saddam out)?  Other than having to fund a war, I see no parallels to LBJ, especially in how the war is being conducted. 



 Posted: Thu Feb 9th, 2006 02:50 pm
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javal1
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LOL - I could see this thread drifting in that direction, so I opened a new thread in the lounge for current politics, etc. Hope it will help to keep threads a little more on topic (especially with me and David constantly butting heads! :P)



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 Posted: Wed Feb 15th, 2006 04:05 pm
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calcav
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I’m sorry I took so long to reply to Javal’s invitation to respond to this thread, I accompanied my wife to Atlanta for a business meeting and spent several days climbing on Kennesaw Mountain.

 

We are already experiencing budget problems at Shiloh without even considering the new proposal. Our new visitor center in Corinth opened 18 months ago and congress has yet to approve our base funding. Shiloh is absorbing the costs of running the new site (maintenance, utilities, salary for four employees, etc.) with no increase in available funds. Our current staffing at Shiloh is the lowest it has been in 17 years and we still maintain services while taking on the challenge of running a second site. Normally we hire eight to ten seasonal employees to assist in park operations between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We will be fortunate to see three or four this year.

 

I’d like to elaborate on the services provided not only here at Shiloh/Corinth but at other parks as well. First the seasonal employees: We usually have three seasonals assigned to maintenance employed as weed eaters. The weed eater crew follows behind our three tractor operators mowing historic fields and tour right of way. It takes the tractor operators ten days to make the full circuit of all fields, roads, trails, burial trenches, the river landing and the National Cemetery, weather permitting (we tried cutting back on the mowing as a cost saver and were deluged with complaints).The weed eaters follow behind trimming around trees, buildings, rail fences, walls, traffic signs, cannons (215), troop position markers (520) and monuments (158). These two crews are also responsible for storm clean up (more often than you might think), trail maintenance (15 miles), hazardous tree removal and trimming. The other maintenance personnel are responsible for carpentry, plumbing, masonry, HVAC, road repairs, sign repairs, landscaping, building upkeep (27, all but 4 are historic), painting, custodial, vehicle servicing and repair, environmental compliance, and the list goes on. Needless to say, they are never caught up.

 

Some of the services we Rangers at Shiloh perform; Scheduled interpretive talks, research, law enforcement, emergency medical, historic and environmental compliance, military staff rides (intensive training for junior officers and senior NCOs), fee collection, black powder safety inspections, wildlife monitoring, firefighting (not just at our park but throughout the country as needed), historic preservation, archival and library duties, serving as guest speakers, school group tours, Smithsonian and riverboat tours, special events (Memorial Day, Anniversary weekend, living history, etc.), archeology (civil war and pre-Columbian), as well as writing the endless programs, studies and reports that come with a government agency (we have a three person administrative staff to assist with that). Oh yes, and we man the information desk. Our seasonal rangers assist in that and some of the educational programs as well. One thing we don’t do is sell books, Eastern National bookstores has that park concession, though we are frequently called on to make recommendations, and help out if they get too swamped.

 

I have friends throughout the park system that perform a myriad of duties.  One friend runs a snow plow on the Going-To-The-Sun Road at Glacier, one of the single most dangerous jobs in the country; another cleans Abe Lincoln’s face on Mount Rushmore. I know a guy that does back-country patrols at Great Smokey Mountains and another that hunts down their feral pigs. Friends at Yosemite are involved in technical climbing/rescue, trail maintenance that requires explosives and tree maintenance 200 feet up a giant sequoia. I myself assist in historic preservation projects throughout the system and have worked on slave cabins in Natchez, a covered bridge in Yosemite, gun emplacements at Fort Pickens, stone work at Harper’s Ferry, flooring in the Wright Brothers bicycle shop and the rebuilding of the Manse-George “war cabin” right here at Shiloh. I could continue this list for pages but you get the idea.

 

We have made cuts and if necessary will make some more. At Shiloh we have already worked out our schedules for the busy season. We might be a little tired now and then as each of us takes on more duties, but we will adapt. It reminds me of a saying from my military days (20 years Navy!) where we saw our share of budget cuts, “We have done so much for so long with so little we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”

 

Most of the cuts will probably be absorbed in ways that won’t be visible to the public. But the one thing you will always see will be that Ranger, in the gray and green with the distinctive flat hat.

 

 



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 Posted: Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 01:03 pm
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calcav
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Chris,

Unfortunatley volunteers in our area are very scarce. Our "Friends of Shiloh" group exists in name only.

Our biggest problem concerning trash is the 2 and a half miles of Highway 22 on the park's western edge. A terrible problem with litter. The staff has an annual trash pick up day where everyone from the Superintendent down is collecting trash. Our Maintenance folks keep up most of the bigger stuff during the course of the year. During the summer the Boy Scouts of America keep the route very clean and do we ever appreciate them!



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