FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Contact: Allison Lenthall, 301-887-1060, email@example.com
New Report: Sleeping Bear Dunes and Other National Parks Could Lose Critical Land Due to Lack of Funding
New poll finds 77 percent of voters think protecting national parks by buying private land within them should be a priority for the federal government
WASHINGTON, DC?The nation?s leading voice for the national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today released the first comprehensive look in decades at development threats to land within U.S. national parks. Its new report, America?s Heritage: For Sale, highlights 55 national parks with critical land now on the market, including an in-depth case study on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and calls on Congress to provide the funding needed to acquire the land.
"Sleeping Bear Dunes is a special place with massive sand dunes and crystal clear lakes, quiet forests and beaches, many of which are privately owned,? said Lynn McClure, NPCA Midwest regional director. ?We have a rare opportunity to give the public access to these beautiful lands by purchasing them before they are lost to the rapidly-developing resort area in Northwestern Michigan."
The National Park Service estimates that purchasing all property on their priority list of about 1.8 million acres will cost about $1.9 billion. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore currently contains approximately 434 acres within its boundaries for sale, at an estimated market price of $5 million. In all, the park has more than 150 individual parcels of land held by private parties.
Some of the land in these national parks has actually been on the market for decades, but the Park Service has always lacked the funding to close the deal. NPCA is concerned that willing sellers will fold under pressure from developers and the result may be commercial or residential development within park boundaries.
?This is about protecting the integrity and completing the mission of the National Park Service,? said Ron Tipton, senior vice president for programs at NPCA. ?In most instances, Congress has directed that these parcels, some of which are now threatened by development, be purchased from willing sellers by the National Park Service, but the money hasn?t yet been provided.?
Along with information on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, NPCA?s report highlights the threat now posed by an oversized hotel-museum-complex that may be constructed on historic land inside Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, where George Washington?s Continental Army weathered the long winter of 1777-78. As an example of land already lost, NPCA points to a retreat center recently built inside Zion National Park in Utah, because the Park Service didn?t have money to acquire the land when it went on the market.
To deter inappropriate development inside national park boundaries and enable the Park Service to purchase these so-called ?in-holdings? from willing sellers, NPCA is encouraging Congress to provide the Park Service with at least $100 million this year from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funding for LWCF is largely from fees already required from companies conducting offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters?not taxpayers.
According to a March 2008 poll performed by Peter Hart Research Associates for the National Parks Conservation Association, 77 percent of voters think that protecting national parks by buying private land within them should be a high or very high priority for the federal government.
NPCA?s new report, America?s Heritage: For Sale, contains an in-depth case study on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and information on 55 national parks with critical lands for sale this year.
To schedule an interview with Lynn McClure, NPCA Midwest regional director, or Ron Tipton, senior vice president for programs at NPCA, contact Allison Lenthall at 301-887-1060 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The full report is attached. It's also available, along with background information on the LWCF and a one-pager on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, at www.npca.org/landforsale.
About the National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 340,000 members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation?s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.
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