An Update from CEO, Deb Yandala

Your voices were heard in Congressional offices last week.

Last Thursday I joined with other executive directors of NPS related friends groups and met with members of Congress and/or their staff, to discuss funding for national parks and several other park-related issues.  I was fortunate to be able to visit the offices of Senator Portman, and Representatives Joyce, Fudge, Ryan, and Renacci.  I also attended a morning reception hosted by Senator Brown where I talked with several of his staff as well as him.

We are fortunate that all members of our Congressional delegation support CVNP and national parks.  It is especially great for us to have a champion in Senator Rob Portman, who serves on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Subcommittee on National Parks.  Meeting with him in his office, with a kayak hanging on the wall, makes talking about the water quality of the Cuyahoga River, quite exciting.  He has hiked and biked in our park and understands its value to Ohio and the nation.

This year I focused my conversation on several key points.  The park’s strategic plan around protection of the Cuyahoga River and development of it as a water trail is important information to share.  In addition discussion of funding for infrastructure and deferred maintenance in our national parks,  I urged that the operating budget of the National Park Service not be cut.  Our park is hit hard when there are operating decreases, which makes the hiring of seasonal staff and retention of full-time staff difficult.

I also asked that there continue to be support of public-private partnerships, with opportunities for non-profit organizations to continue to work alongside the federal government to make sure that our parks are taken care of.  Your support of our new Visitor Center, now under construction, is a great example of the positive impact of citizen support for national parks.  Congress needs to do its share in funding and we supplement with projects that we think are crucial to the park, from funding for children’s park experiences to trail projects.

Finally, support for other key fund sources, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, are important for our park.  We are part of an ecosystem that needs long-term protection.

In these contentious times, both in Washington and across the country, I find it important to put my personal politics on hold while representing all of you and your varied voices.  What we can agree on is that our national parks are among our most precious resources, an investment in the future, and important to our health and well-being.  They are common real estate that belongs to all Americans and they deserve to be cared for and protected.  Thank you for your part in our important work.