Second, The Conservation Foundation (CF) published a report, "Federal Resource Lands and Their Neighbors," that also documented the widespread problems associated with adjacent land uses (Conservation Foundation, 1979).

The NPCA and CF reports created enough public interest in the seriousness of the threats to the national parks that in April 1979, Representative Philip Burton (Democrat, California) and Representative Keith Sebelius (Republican, Kansas), respectively the chair and ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Insular Affairs of the House Interior Committee, formally asked the NPS to prepare a report on the threats to the park system. In response, NPS began a comprehensive assessment that included a questionnaire that was sent to every park unit. In May 1980, the NPS submitted "State of the Parks: A 1980 Report to Congress" (NPS, 1980), which made the following admissions:

  • Seventy-five percent of the reported threats were classified by on-site park observers as inadequately documented.

  • Scenic resources were reported to be significantly threatened in more than 60 percent of the parks.

  • Air quality was reported to be endangered in more than 45 percent of the parks.

  • Mammal, plant, and freshwater resources were reported to be threatened in more than 40 percent of the units.

  • More than 50 percent of the reported threats were attributed to sources or activities external to the parks.

In addition, the NPS listed four actions essential to protecting and preserving the resources of the parks:

  • Prepare a comprehensive inventory of the important natural and cultural resources of each park and develop a plan at the park level for managing these resources.

  • Establish accurate baseline data on park resources and conduct comprehensive monitoring programs designed to detect and measure changes both in these resources and in the ecosystem environments within which they exist.

  • Pay additional attention to those threats which are associated with sources and activities located external to the parks.



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