Dale Penny on President Obama’s Public Lands Budget

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SCA President's Statement on the Proposed Budget for FY15

The Student Conservation Association salutes President Obama for advancing a federal budget that responsibly provides for some of America’s most iconic and irreplaceable assets: our public lands.

The President’s spending proposal, which includes more than $50 million for youth conservation programs, comes as SCA convenes its fourth annual NPS Academy, a nationwide workforce diversity and development program in partnership with the National Park Service, and we are pleased by the prospect of expanding service and employment programs to tens of thousands of additional young people in parks, forests and refuges across our country. 

This budget will also allow young military veterans who have so valiantly protected the American people to turn toward securing our natural and cultural heritage – the very legacy that defines us as a people.  These former servicemen and women undoubtedly see restoring historic sites and mitigating wildfire dangers as a new form of service, but we must support these opportunities as a down payment on their enormous sacrifice for country.

In addition, with the National Park Service just two years shy of its 100th birthday, the administration’s Centennial Initiative promises to create more conservation jobs for young people, unprecedented numbers of volunteer positions, and finally address a burgeoning backlog of park maintenance projects.  This is welcome news to youth seeking to enter the conservation field as well as hundreds of millions of annual park visitors.

The Park Service just this week revealed that every dollar invested in the park system generates $10 in economic benefits, or nearly $27 billion in yearly economic activity.  And if we need any further indication of our parks’ tremendous value, we need only recall the nationwide distress suffered during the government shutdown last spring, when Yellowstone, Yosemite and other iconic landmarks were closed for business.

SCA urges passage of these crucial elements of the President’s budget to support expanded service and career opportunities for the next generation of conservation leaders and provide for the public lands that contribute so much to the American way of life.