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National Parks in Need of Repair but Money is Being Wasted

Getty Images, photo by David Becker

We were all upset during the government shutdown that the National Parks were closed and it was right to be upset. But a new report from Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn on National Parks wasting money is even more upsetting.  Many parks are in need of repair with a maintenance backlog of $2 billion.

The Grand Canyon, for instance, has water lines that are more than 50 years old and aren’t being replaced. Because of that, many toilets there can’t be flushed.

Meanwhile, the Park Service has spent $731,000 on finding stains on St. Louis’s Gateway Arch but none of the money was spent on removing any of the stains.

The Service has spent money on sending a Park Ranger to Italy to be a judge in an Italian Film Festival. Rangers have been sent to Ohio to judge a wine tasting event and to Michigan to judge an antique car show.

Another $52,000 a year in taxpayer’s money in used to maintain the home of Black History Month founder Carter Woodson. That would be o.k. if the home was accessible but it’s not. It’s a run-down house with a No Trespassing sign on it and has iron bars blocking the windows and doors and no visitors have been allowed in the house in seven years. The service bought the house for $2.1 million and designated it a National Historical Site but it just sits there.

Another example is the Eugene O’Neill National Historical site in the San Francisco Bay area. The site averages less than 10 visitors a day, yet there’s a staff of 9 on hand to greet visitors. As pointed out in Senator Coburn’s study, there’s usually more staff than there are visitors.

It comes down to spending $84 billion a year and wasting at least half of that.

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