FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: September 28, 2016
CONTACT: Angela Gonzales, Press Secretary, 202.419.3712, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Parks Action Fund Will Hold Candidates, Members of Congress Accountable on Parks Record
WASHINGTON – While most of Congress was quick to laud our national parks as they celebrated their centennial in August, nearly half of the elected officials regularly voted against parks during the 114th Congress. This is according to a first-of-its kind scorecard of Congress’s national parks voting record issued today by National Parks Action Fund (Action Fund).
The Action Fund, affiliated with National Parks Conservation Association, evaluated park-related votes taken by the House and Senate during the 114th Congress through the 2016 summer congressional recess. The scored votes included a variety of issues affecting parks, including clean water and wildlife protections, the president’s ability to protect new sites as national monuments and funding levels for the National Park Service.
“Just as national parks are the indicator of the health of our country’s water, air and wildlife, the votes lawmakers cast are the indicator of Congress’s willingness to protect America’s favorite places,” said National Parks Action Fund Chair Theresa Pierno. “It’s easy for members of Congress to say they love national parks, particularly ones in their home state. But the facts often tell a different story. A single vote can have a profound and lasting effect on our national parks. This scorecard brings to light whether their rhetoric matches their record.”
According to the scorecard:
- 54% of House members and 47% of senators received an F
- 34% (34 Senators and 146 House members) voted against parks 100% of the time
- Eight full state delegations received F grades
- 40% of lawmakers (43 Senators and 171 House members) voted for parks 100% of the time
- 39% of House members and 43% of senators received an A
- Seven full state delegations received A grades
- In 17 states, both senators received F grades
- In 16 states both senators received A grades
Most votes fell along party lines despite national parks long being a non-partisan issue.
“The scorecard’s clear partisan divide is a stark reminder of the deep political divide in Congress,” said Jane Lyder, a member of the Action Fund board who served in the Interior Department under both Republican and Democratic administrations. “It is extremely disappointing that the large majority of Republicans received a failing grade, particularly when past members of the party have been some of our country’s most important park champions. National parks should not be a Republican or Democratic issue. They are an American issue. We need lawmakers who will stand up and protect these places for future generations, just as they were protected for us.”
In the past, Republicans have been some of our parks’ biggest champions, including President Abraham Lincoln’s protection of what would become Yosemite in the midst of the Civil War, and President Richard Nixon’s approval of many of the environmental protections critical to preservation of national parks.
Despite all there is to celebrate with the National Park Service’s centennial this year, there has never been a more critical time for our national parks. Due to years of neglect by too many members of Congress, our parks need $12 billion in repairs and more rangers to care for them. This while many in Congress are actively working to prevent protections for park waterways and wildlife and to hamper our ability to preserve new places for future generations.
“As we prepare for the start of a new Congress next year, we hope members will think hard about the impact their votes have on America’s favorite places, and ensure each vote they take is a pro-park vote,” added Pierno. “In this centennial of the National Park Service, now is the time for them to commit to ensuring our national parks have the resources and support they need to continue protecting America’s favorite places. Our parks deserve no less.”
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About National Parks Action Fund
National Parks Action Fund (Action Fund) is the newly created 501(c)(4) of National Parks Conservation Association. The Action Fund’s fundamental goal is to protect, restore, and fund the National Park System by informing the public about threats facing our parks, educating members of Congress about proposals to help parks, and influencing candidates’ positions to forward those proposals.