To the editor:
Senator Mike Enzi has a plan to extend into perpetuity guaranteed, automatic funding for the wasteful national parks.
Here we go again, another senator in the waning months of his legislative career throwing excessive funding at the parks, angling for a National Park Service visitor center to be named in his honor (OpEd, June 11, 2020).
Senator Enzi “grew up in … Yellowstone … spending summers there.” He is old enough to have experienced a vastly different Yellowstone of yesteryear, whereby bears were fed out car windows.
Decades ago, roadside begging bears were deemed problematic from a managerial standpoint. Ecologically, it was the worst thing to do to/for the bears as they would grow dependent on handouts of well-intentioned tourists. So states the NPS and bear experts.
Sending more money to the parks is equivalent to throwing another sandwich to a bear out the car window.
May we please see a breakdown of the self-generated NPS $12 billion dollar maintenance backlog estimate? Is excessive, overpaid NPS labor figured in the backlog? Is NPS in-park housing included?
Here is a real-life example of the foolishness in sending the NPS additional funding before curtailing the waste and reevaluating current budgets: NPS carpenter married to an NPS administrative bureaucrat. Together their annual federal wages total $180,000. They live in a two-bedroom house in Mammoth and pay $6,000 per year in rent. Real numbers folks.
A leaky faucet, a broken light switch, a new roof, combined with expensive NPS plumbers, electricians and carpenters equate to an upside-down Yellowstone maintenance backlog. Employee housing maintenance funding shortfalls are of the NPS’ own making.
Senator Enzi should be lobbying for fair-market-value employee housing rental rates – proportionate and fair to taxpayers.