How the Trump budget proposal would impact National Park Service and EPA

President Donald Trump released his administration’s proposed fiscal year 2018 federal budget on Tuesday. Within it are major cuts to programs that could drastically affect the great outdoors we love.

The Environmental Protection Agency is one of the biggest targets of the Trump administration’s proposed budget, which would see its current funding cut by more than 31 percent – to $5.6 billion.

But the budget cuts would end critical regional programs aimed at helping restore areas like the Great Lakes, slashing categorical grants that help state and local environmental efforts and crippling the Superfund cleanup program.

According to The Washington Post, “Dozens of other programs also would be zeroed out entirely, including funding for radon detection, lead risk reduction, projects along the U.S./Mexico border and environmental justice initiatives. The agency would have significantly less money for enforcement of environmental crimes and for research into climate change and other issues.”

The proposed budget would also bring in new incomes for the federal government by expanding use of pesticide licensing fees and leasing land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas, among other initiatives.

National Park Rangers at Glacier National Park. Photo: Courtesy of Wiki Commons

As for the Department of the Interior, it would see its budget cut by nearly 11 percent. Which means the National Park Service would also see a decrease in its FY 2018 budget to $2.55 billion.

When factoring in the FY17 Omnibus appropriations to the FY18 budget request, this is a decrease of roughly $375 million in their budget. (The FY 2017 budget for the NPS included a one-time cost of the Centennial celebrations for $115 million.)

National Park Service visitor increase versus employee decrease chart. Courtesy of NPS

But keep in mind that the National Park Service has seen continual record-breaking attendance over the past few years. A reduction in budget would lead to staffing decreases:

“The 2018 President’s budget request funds 6.4 percent fewer FTE (-1,242). At these levels, visitors and partners will experience service reductions, and remaining employees will face heavier workloads. At this funding level, nearly 90 percent of parks would reduce their current staffing levels, leading to a reduction in services to the public. Likewise, support programs would also experience staffing and service level reductions, which further impacts parks.”

That could eventually mean closures of national parks at a time when Americans are clamoring to visit them the most in our nation’s history. The justification document continues:

“As a result, at the proposed budget levels many parks could be required to institute further reductions to services, operating hours, and the number of full-time and seasonal employees. Service-wide, these adjustments could include the elimination of thousands of seasonal employees, leaving vacancies for key positions unfilled, and offering early retirement or separation incentives to existing employees. Reductions to both the seasonal and permanent workforce would have an immediate impact on day-to-day park operations.”

And according to the Sierra Club, important maintenance programs like AmeriCorps and Conservation Corps would also be on the chopping block.

As the director of the Lands Protection Program for the Sierra Club, Athan Manuel, told GrindTV, “It’s impractical to think this budget could become the blue print for how we fund things in the United States.”

The President’s budget “is never adopted wholesale by Congress or, in some years, even in parts,” as CNNMoney explains. “But it does lay out for lawmakers where the president’s fiscal and legislative priorities lie — and where they don’t.”

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