Coburn on Congress, NPS: It’s time to stop acquiring land and start taking care of it

posted at 4:41 pm on October 30, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

As the recent government shutdown so very aptly demonstrated, the care for and conservation of many of our country’s natural treasures are currently tied to the caprice of national politics, and even worse, the federal government is constantly acquiring more land while the parks that they already own and operate are subjected to budgetary shortfalls that often result in both recreational restrictions and environmental degradation. These sites need tending, and it is an irresponsible, damn shame that we have an ever-mounting deferred maintenance backlog of more than $11 billion dollars but Congress and the executive branch continue to bring still more swaths of land under bureaucratic control through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and various amendments.

We now have more than 400 national parks on the registrar, and while adding still more makes for a great one-time ribbon-cutting ceremony, there are too many opportunities for waste and neglect to keep this practice up. Repubican Sen. Tom Coburn has been hitting this theme for awhile now, and his office is out with a report detailing some of the opportunity costs associated with it, via Fox News:

His report documents a federal agency that is top heavy with bureaucracy and management, but badly mangles its spending priorities.

“This is an agency that spends $650 million a year administering a $2.6 billion budget,” says Coburn — a ratio he calls, “outlandish.” …

“Congress continues to add things – ‘parks’ – that aren’t significant in terms of national interest in a declining budget.  What we have is our most treasured resources, the big parks, with maintenance backlogs in excess of $2 billion.”

The report catalogues a litany of unfilled potholes, crumbling stairs and deteriorating infrastructure in many of the nation’s most visited national parks. “Look at the Grand Canyon,” says Coburn.  “They’re not even replacing water lines that are 50 years old. They can’t even flush the toilets, because they’re not doing the critical maintenance that’s needed.”

He adds, “If you continue to add federal land and federal parks, what you are going to do is make this problem worse.”

The worst part of it is that, while environmentalists and bureaucrats are always eager to add land to the whimsical budgetary rolls of big government, there are other and much better options for conserving lands for public use. State parks and private-public partnerships have a much better record of both stewardship and fiscal responsibility, and private leasing especially often tends to act as a revenue-generator rather than the drain on government coffers. It doesn’t have to be this way.


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In Utopia, the State takes – PERIOD

OhEssYouCowboys on October 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM

All land in Mother Russia belongs to the state.

besser tot als rot on October 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM

All land in Mother Russia belongs to the state.

besser tot als rot on October 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Where else we put Traktor Faktory?

OhEssYouCowboys on October 30, 2013 at 4:46 PM

They’re going the wrong way: should be selling stolen land back to the states and using that money to pay down the debt. Why the Hell do the Feds own anything other than DC..?

affenhauer on October 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM

I want a hi-res copy of that photo used on this piece. Simply majestic.

ButterflyDragon on October 30, 2013 at 4:52 PM

When I fantasize about constitutional amendments one of them is an amendment to limit federal and state property ownership. The federal government may own no more then 10% of a states lands, and the same percentage to the states, leaving 80% at worst for private ownership. And if land is taken by the feds or state for whatever legitimate reason (beyond eminent domain for public projects) it must be offered back to the public at 50% of fair market value.

NotCoach on October 30, 2013 at 4:53 PM

They’re going the wrong way: should be selling stolen land back to the states and using that money to pay down the debt. Why the Hell do the Feds own anything other than DC..?

affenhauer on October 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Because private property is the linchpin of liberty. Need I say more?

NotCoach on October 30, 2013 at 4:54 PM

It’d be awesome to parlay Coburn’s message into this funny movie scene: Forgetting Sarah Marshall: The Less You Do, The More You Do

AeroSpear on October 30, 2013 at 4:57 PM

I have to disagree on the concept of the NPS not buying any more land.There are times when it can be a good thing.

What about purchasing historical sites so that they do not end up going to the developers, who want to pave over Civil War battlefield sites and build another Walmart and other big box retail stores?

I donate regularly to the Civil War Preservation Trust, a non-profit organization that raises funds to purchase historic battlefield lands, often with matching funds from Uncle Sam. Then after purchasing the land the CWPT turns it over to the NPS.

Old Fritz on October 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Awww….love the view of the Tetons from the North

Jackalope on October 30, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Awww….love the view of the Tetons from the North

Jackalope on October 30, 2013 at 5:03 PM

I saw the Tetons, way back in ’79.

They were as beautiful as the air.

I love the West, so much.

OhEssYouCowboys on October 30, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Old Fritz on October 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Sorry Old Fritz, but that is the kind of thinking that gets government’s foot in the door and then it is buy, buy, buy until they own all the land and bye, bye, bye to our freedoms.

Deano1952 on October 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Welcome to the USSR, alas, Britain.

Schadenfreude on October 30, 2013 at 5:15 PM

I want a hi-res copy of that photo used on this piece. Simply majestic.

ButterflyDragon on October 30, 2013 at 4:52 PM

higher

DarkCurrent on October 30, 2013 at 5:16 PM

During the recent government shutdown, when National Parks were closed, several state governments agreed to fund maintenance of National Parks within their boundaries, in order to attract tourists who would buy from nearby businesses, including restaurants and hotels.

If the State governments can do a better job than the NPS at maintaining the parks and attracting visitors, why not offer to sell National Parks whose land is entirely within one state to State governments willing to buy them?

Steve Z on October 30, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Doesn’t the government own about 80% of Nevada? Also look at the development of the Bakken field and note the stark lines of activity on private land vs public.

Here’s another neat trick they use. A developer that wants to put condos on a mountain in Colorado can purchase swamp land that is undeveloped in Houston and get huge credit for preserving natural habitat in critical areas if he turns it over to USFWS. That swamp can’t be developed, thus it can’t taxed for improvements. This goes on everywhere.

DanMan on October 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Control. Control. Control. That’s what it’s all about. And, it’s a surefire way to make it more difficult to drill or mine for natural energy resources that this country will continue to need in the long range foreseeable future.

iamsaved on October 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Control. Control. Control. That’s what it’s all about. And, it’s a surefire way to make it more difficult to drill or mine for natural energy resources that this country will continue to need in the long range foreseeable future.

Absolutely. Its also a surefire way to keep state and local entities gain from using the lands. Also ensure the “preferred” organizations get access to any exploitation of the natural resources within, and it won’t be any that don’t have close ties to members of a certain party or admin and contribute often and generously to certain politicians’ committees for election.

hawkeye54 on October 30, 2013 at 5:32 PM

All land in Mother Russia belongs to the state.

besser tot als rot on October 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Well, to put it honestly, everything and everyone within Mother Amerika belongs to the state, give these Leftist the Utopia of their dreams. Some of them from local to federal levels act like that already.

hawkeye54 on October 30, 2013 at 5:34 PM

The US constitution enumerates several reasons for the federal government to purchase land from the states for federal use. National parks is not one of them. Any land it needs is to be purchased at the consent of the state. I, for one, believe the states did the citizens an injustice by allowing the federal government to confiscate vast swathes of land and hold them under federal law.

jya lai on October 30, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Let the States know they can pull an eminent domain on the feds… or just rescind the feds right to hold the lands.

States can do that.

ajacksonian on October 30, 2013 at 6:20 PM

I hope there are good environmental reasons for buying additional land, or it should not be done. After the government shutdown, we should turn some of the big name parks into private foundations, so that our tourist trade isn’t interrupted by politics. The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Smokey Mountain, and a few others would survive fine on charity and other fund raising. And should be emphasized that the ecology would win not lose by such a change!

thuja on October 30, 2013 at 6:26 PM

It’d be nice if the Republicans ordered the land sold to pay off the national debt.
That’d have the bonus of removing oil and gas reserves from Barry’s control.

Iblis on October 30, 2013 at 6:26 PM

states should just take it all back.
by force if needed.

dmacleo on October 30, 2013 at 6:28 PM

It’d be nice if the Republicans ordered the land sold to pay off the national debt.
That’d have the bonus of removing oil and gas reserves from Barry’s control.

Iblis on October 30, 2013 at 6:26 PM

If you want to hand the Democrats victory in 2014, I suggest making this a big priority.

thuja on October 30, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Better yet, how about divesting?

Warner Todd Huston on October 30, 2013 at 7:02 PM

If you want to hand the Democrats victory in 2014, I suggest making this a big priority.

thuja on October 30, 2013 at 6:29 PM

What is the Republicans’ plan for winning in 2014? Is it conservative?

Buddahpundit on October 30, 2013 at 7:05 PM

ButterflyDragon on October 30, 2013 at 4:52 PM

if your still out there..
the photo you liked is
from the sanke river overlook..
just off hwy 89…The Grand Tetons Ntl Pk..
half way between moose wy and moran jct wy..
(10 miles north of moose)
near ‘dead mans bar’..a rafting take out point..
Ansel Adams took a large collection
from just this point,,,in black adn white

going2mars on October 30, 2013 at 7:16 PM

What is the Republicans’ plan for winning in 2014? Is it conservative?

Buddahpundit on October 30, 2013 at 7:05 PM

probably something like You have to fold to know what you were holding.

dmacleo on October 30, 2013 at 9:17 PM

higher

DarkCurrent on October 30, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Awesome! Thank you very much!

ButterflyDragon on October 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM

Headline reads “Coburn on Congress, NPS: It’s time to stop acquiring land and start taking care of it”

I assume that NPS stands for National Park Service, but the abbreviation is not explained in the article. Neither NPS or “National Park Service” is used in the piece. Perhaps if I followed all the links, Hotair’s headline at this site would be explained on one of those other sites.

Seriously guys, you do this all the time. Come up with some headline that does not make sense if you just read the article that it is sitting on top of.

Anon Y. Mous on October 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM