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Contact: Bruce Huffman, 231-326-5134
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore would see a significant increase (19.5%) in operational funding as a result of the President’s $2.4 billion National Park Service budget for Fiscal Year 2008. The budget proposal calls for the largest ever increase in park operations funding and leverages public-private investments that could generate as much as $3 billion to help the parks prepare for their 100th birthday in 2016.
The proposed budget includes 3,000 new seasonal employees, continues increases for park maintenance and targets specific cultural and natural resource improvements throughout the National Park Service.
The FY2008 budget proposal is the first financial infusion for the President’s “Centennial Initiative” in the years leading to the National Park Service Centennial. “This is money above and beyond our regular budget,” National Park Service Director Mary Bomar said. “It includes $100 million of discretionary funds for parks each year and up to $200 million a year within the Centennial Initiative, which would provide $100 million a year to match donations for signature projects and programs.” The Centennial Initiative emphasizes three key goals:
- Engage all Americans in preserving our heritage, history and natural resources though philanthropy and partnerships.
- Reconnect people with their parks.
- Build capacity for critical park operations and facilities, and sustain them through the next century.
The proposed budget provides a solid foundation for park base funding: With $140 million in increases at the park base level, this budget supports core mission responsibilities like interpretation and education programs, staff at visitor centers, park safety, and maintaining resources and facilities in good condition.
“This budget will have a tremendous impact regionally and at the park level,” said Ernest Quintana, Regional Director of the National Park Service’s 13-state Midwest Region. “All aspects of park operations, from maintenance to law enforcement, to providing our stories to our park visitors, stand to benefit from this increased funding.” The FY2008 budget also includes $57.5 million to fully fund employee pay and benefits. “The full funding of these types of fixed costs alleviates the need to absorb portions of employee pay raises which have, historically, eroded park operations budgets,” said Quintana.
The President’s proposed budget would mean an increase in base operating funds of approximately $701,000 at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, from $3.5 million to $4.2 million. Such funding could be applied towards restoring six maintenance employees and eight interpreters, increased staffing for ranger patrols and hiring a coordinator for the Lakeshore’s 800 volunteers who contribute more than 30,000 hours annually. “This is great news for the National Park Service, for Michigan, and for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore,” added Superintendent Dusty Shultz.