Lawmakers seek wildlife, National Park protections amid visitor surge
WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – Members of Congress held a hearing on overcrowding at national parks around the country, a problem impacting both visitors and the parks.
The national park system is struggling to both protect the parks and manage a surge of pandemic visitors.
“Some parks like Yosemite are national attractions, for parks like that overcrowding must be actively managed,” Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) said.
Members of Congress, including Porter and Utah Democrat Blake Moore, are concerned about how crowd management will impact future access.
“Can you expand a little bit on the potential of Zion National Park opening up new trails? Are you supportive of this have you worked on anything on this regard?” Rep. Moore asked during the hearing.
Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh responded, “we have opened some new trails and we have some plans in addition.”
Lawmakers also want to ensure the landscapes and wildlife people are flocking to see remain protected.
Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse asked about the plans for implementing more reservation systems in 2023, which has been used as a pilot in a variety of different national parks.
“It’s not one-size-fits-all, we do need to understand how these particular situations in different parks manifest themselves,” Bradybaugh said.
Officials also say the National Park System has not always had the resources it needs to address these problems but hopes that changes after a 22% increase in their budget from 2021’s infrastructure law.
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