I am in favor of Congress allocating more funds to the Department of the Interior for maintenance and upgrades to the national parks and monuments, especially those in Utah. I am also in favor of legislation that will protect the parks from closing in the event of a budget dispute or shutdown.
The recent closures of these parks and monuments was of concern to me, and if the federal government can’t figure out its budget, it should privatize the national parks or separate them fiscally from the rest of the messed-up budget.
Although this issue is now temporarily resolved, it may come up again as the target of other budget cuts, or as the result of national debt and overspending. Our state’s economical health and one of its biggest revenue sources, tourism, was hurt when the parks closed. Since we have five national parks and many national monuments within our state’s borders, we were severely impacted by the closures.
Our state even paid for the operating costs to keep the parks open because the federal government couldn’t (wouldn’t). The national parks are among our state’s greatest assets and should be accessible to everyone, as much as possible.
My grandfather, Allan Howe, (former Utah 2nd District representative 1974-76) spent a large portion of his professional career as a lobbyist for the national park concessionaires — his whole motivation was to make the national park experience better for visitors by offering amenities that would increase accessibility and convenience while still preserving the delicate ecosystems in our parks. It is difficult to make important decisions about how to spend our citizens’ tax dollars. But there are some experiences and places that can be transformational.
I believe the national parks and monuments, especially those in Utah, are worth every penny that our government invests in them.
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