Rangers are the public face of our national parks. They are the watchful stewards of America’s most important natural, historic and cultural landmarks. Park rangers protect wildlife, maintain our trails, guide our way through amazing landscapes and teach us about our history.
When national park budgets are slashed, it is often our rangers who are the first to go. Park Service staff is down by more than 10 percent just a couple years ago, leaving park managers with the difficult task of deciding what park needs they can meet with existing capacity, and what needs must wait. For those rangers that are left, they are forced to operate national parks on shoestring budgets.
On top of existing tight budgets, an Executive Order signed by President Trump on January 23, 2017 is preventing the National Park Service from filling its more than 1,700 vacant positions. This hiring freeze is only intensifying the challenges park managers are facing, including record-crowds and a $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog.
We need more champions in Congress to ensure our parks have the staff they need to face the growing challenges of our aging Park System. In this centennial year, now is the time for members of Congress to stand with our rangers.