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Department of the Interior Gets Cash, But Not Enough For Parks

Text by A.C. Howard

Like banks, the auto industry, and nearly everyone else these days, our national parks just received a bundle of cash from President Obama’s stimulus package. And, like banks, the auto industry, and everyone else, it doesn’t seem to be enough. 

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that $750 million will be invested into the National Park Service, but the amount will only cover about 10 percent of the park’s maintenance needs. 

At a media roundtable, held at 12:15 today in Washington, D.C., Secretary Salazar spoke of steps the department has taken so far, such as determining which projects will get funded. They plan to invest over three billion dollars into the creation of over 100,000 jobs. He referenced FDR’s choice to invest in landscapes—specifically trails, roads, and water systems—as a way to create jobs while updating the country with modern, better-functioning systems. Salazar said that we now have the “opportunity to create the same lasting legacy” as FDR did decades ago. 

The three main points of the department’s plan are: first, to create a clean energy economy; second, to protect our landscapes and, in turn, our history and culture; and third, to mobilize young adults to join in the process. This mobilization has already begun with the help of programs such as Job Corps and the Student Conservation Association. Concerning the clean energy economy, Salazar stressed the importance of increasing our efficiency of energy use, as well as acting as role models on how to produce renewable sources of energy. Some ideas for these sources are wind power from the Atlantic coastline and the Great Plains, as well as solar panels in the Southwest.
The DOI will also launch a new section on their website today, which allows the public to follow the recovery plan and the progress of the department.