Bitter Days for National Parks
The impetuous rush to balance the federal budget is likely to spell more disaster for the National Park Service (see “Parks in Peril,” March/April 1996). The latest financial projections for 2002 call for an estimated $650 million cut from the Department of the Interior’s budget, with a proposed $70 million budget cut from the Park Service alone.
Kevin Collins, public affairs manager for the National Parks & Conservation Association (NPCA), asked 369 park superintendents to report on their current cost-cutting measures. Across the nation, they noted deferred maintenance and sanitation services, closed campgrounds, decreases in interpretation and education programs, and smaller staffs for security and groundskeeping—all leading to an increase in illegal activities.
Making up some of the gap, however, are corporate sponsors like Canon U.S.A., which recently donated more than $1 million for conservation of Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon. “Canon has always been environmentally aware,” says Russell Marchetta, Canon’s senior manager of corporate communications. “Our Clean Earth campaign was looking for new avenues to pursue and coming to the aid of our national parks seemed a perfect fit.”
National Parks and Conservation Association
1015 31st Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 223-6722
Congress Gets an “F”
This year’s Earth Day festivities saw congressional leaders planting trees and cleaning up beaches, posing for “photo ops” from Hawaii to Maine. But when it came down to passing environmental legislation, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) says Congress continues to fail miserably (“Wrong Way Congress,” Currents, January/February 1995). Dubbed “the worst Congress in 25 years” by LCV, the 104th Congress earned an all-time record low with 111 representatives and 24 senators scoring zero on LCV’s environmental report card.
And how did Clinton score? Not bad, says LCV’s Research Director Paul Brotherton. Even though Clinton signed the “Unfunded Mandates” bill (tying the hands of environmental regulators), and the “Endangered Species Standstill” bill (which cuts $1.5 million from the Endangered Species Act budget for listing new species), Clinton did score well on key energy and land protection bills, including passage of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill (which increases renewable energy research funding). He also scored points for vetoing Arctic Refuge drilling, the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) crippling bill (which cuts $1.5 billion from EPA’s $7 billion budget), and the Mojave anti-environmental riders bill (which circumvents the California Desert Protection Act of 1994).
LCV is appreciative of the sometimes lonely efforts of Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), who is leading a small band of Republicans to vote “green.”
League of Conservation Voters
1707 L Street, NW, Suite 750
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 785-8683
Three years ago, New York State’s Sterling Forest was set to be bulldozed in favor of sprawling urban development. Some 17,500 acres of pristine woodlands would be turned into a model city—the largest between New York City and Buffalo, New York (See In Brief, “The Fight for Sterling Forest,” May/June 1993).
But conservation efforts have led to an agreement by the land’s owners, Zurich Insurance Corporation of Switzerland, to sell 15,280 acres of the privately-held forest for $55 million.
The remaining 2,220 acres, which Louis Heimbach, chairman of Sterling Forest Corporation (the local arm of Zurich), says “the government couldn’t afford,” will be used by the company as the site of 3,000 housing units and 3.3 million square feet of commercial/light industrial space.
Aside from fears that development would increase runoff and pollute two New Jersey drinking water reservoirs, Sterling Forest houses 62 species of New York’s state butterflies, as well as endangered timber rattlesnakes, bog turtles, salamanders and 15 other threatened species.
The money to buy Sterling Forest, whose price tag was reportedly set at $150 million in 1993, came from government, state and private funding. New York and New Jersey each will pay $10 million, while the Wallace Fund will contribute $5 million. Congress is expected to contribute $17.5 million.
The deal will mark Sterling Forest as the largest tract of forest in the Northeast.
Sterling Forest Resources,
7 Spring Rock Drive
Goshen, NY 10924
Tel: (914) 294-3098