Jan. 18, 2004 The National Park Service needs the U.S. Congress to come up with another $600 million on top of its $2.3 billion operating budget to fully fund all 389 national parks, monuments, historic sites and other facilities that come under the National Park Service umbrella, said Tom Kiernan, president of the non-profit National Park Conservation Association.
"And there's a $4.9 billion backlog of projects," he said, noting that those projects were not included in the operating budget figure.
Kiernan made his remarks at the Friends of the V.I. National Park annual meeting held Sunday at Cinnamon Bay Campground's T'ree Lizards Restaurant.
He urged the more than 100 Friends members at the meeting to lobby Congress for increased funding. After the meeting, he said that since many of the 3,000 Friends live full or part time on the mainland — where they have a voting representative — they are able to pressure their congressional representatives to approve more park funding.
Kiernan said that while the V.I. National Park was recently removed from the association's 10 most endangered parks list, VINP still was in danger.
During his annual state of the park address, Superintendent Art Frederick elaborated on Kiernan's message noting that the park was still threatened by growth and development, congestion, lack of adequate parking and insufficient funding — conditions that landed the park on the list in 2003.
However, Frederick said the park has made some progress in curbing uncontrolled fishing, dealing with feral animals and protecting coral reefs from boat damage by installing moorings. All of which were cited as reasons for including the park on the top 10 endangered list.
Frederick said there are other challenges ahead, the foremost being to find a way to deal with the voluminous traffic on the North Shore Road. In addition to visitors, residents, joggers, hikers, walkers, and cyclists, concrete trucks and water trucks use the road to drive the scenic route between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay.
"It's a prescription for disaster," he said.
The superintendent also will tackle the development of a new general management plan. The last one was done in 1983.
In response to a question from the audience, Frederick said he planned to be at this park three to five years.
"I want to see the general management plan take place," he said.
He urged Friends members to attend the public hearings on the general management plan and to make their views known.
"The decisions I make impact you and what you do impacts the park," Frederick said.
The Friends named Kent and Paula Savel its Friends of the Year for their work in setting up the docent program at Annaberg Plantation, their staffing of the Friends' kiosk at Trunk Bay and other activities over the years.
The park named Jane Bowry its volunteer of the year for working at the visitors center front desk for more than 25 years.
Friends president Joe Kessler said that the organization expects to raise $750,000 in 2004 to fund projects and activities in the park.
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