Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Real Costs of Deferred Park Maintenance. (@ Issue)

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Real Costs of Deferred Park Maintenance. (@ Issue)

Article excerpt

Earlier this year, the General Accounting Office estimated that there is $6 billion worth of deferred maintenance in our national parks. As troubling as that estimate is, it's but an indicator of a much larger problem.

One way to assess the magnitude of that larger problem lies in recognizing that the GAO considered only park infrastructure. There are other deferrals, such as resource inventory, monitoring and staffing. In addition, the GAO didn't look at the several other federal agencies that have a steward-ship mandate and, collectively, provide another five to six times as many recreational opportunities. The situation in the nation's state parks is equally grim. It's a well-known fact that maintenance delayed is maintenance magnified. The future costs are staggering to contemplate.

Moreover, the real costs--in terms of violating dm public's trust in park agencies and personnel--can't be qualified. A breach of trust is inevitably accompanied by a tarnished image, a loss in credibility and a dip in morale that isn't going to go away in response to yet one more temporary funding tourniquet to stop the most serious bleeding. Where's the guarantee that the cycle of deferrals won't start all over again if and when today's deferrals are corrected?

To say that the central mission of stewardship can be set aside until better times suggests that stewardship is a luxury that has no role in helping to create those better times. …

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