RFF on the Issues

RFF on the Issues: Addressing Challenges at the National Park Service

May 20, 2016 | Shannon Wulf Tregar

In an interview with the Washington Post, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis describes various challenges facing the Park Service at its 100th anniversary, including a maintenance backlog of more than $11 billion, the effects of climate change, and park financing in the twenty-first century.

Research by RFF’s Margaret Walls provides insights to address a number of these challenges.

On addressing the backlog and financing parks in the future:

“When one person’s visit to a park doesn’t appreciably diminish the experience for others, the fee to use the park should be zero. That doesn’t apply when the public good starts to experience congestion problems, and that’s what’s happening in some of our national parks.” Read more:

“Although some communities have achieved success with [park philanthropy], it has drawbacks: free-riding, uncertainty in funding streams, “crowding-out” of government funds, costs associated with raising money, and inequities in what gets funded.” Read more:

On climate change and public lands management:

“Anticipatory or planned adaptation, unlike autonomous adaptation, does not wait for conditions to shift. Instead, natural resource managers can look ahead, anticipate some of the negative consequences of climate change, and adjust management schemes in a way that gives resources a better opportunity to weather those consequences.” Read more:

RFF on the Issues connects today’s pressing news with related research and expertise at RFF.