Being a good steward of national parkland isn't easy. There's keeping the land out of the hands of greedy private interests, and then there's taking care of all that land you kept out of private hands.
In New York, former Gov. George Pataki's 1 million acres of new open space is a great achievement, but it's left new Gov. Eliot Spitzer with an expensive need to study, develop and maintain all that land.
At the federal level, a huge maintenance backlog is being addressed with more funding than past years, but the budget for buying new land including 1.8 million acres of land inside park boundaries that remains in private hands has dwindled. The 2008 budget sets aside $35 million, just 25% of the 1999 budget for land purchases, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Certainly, private landowners can be excellent stewards of the land, even nationally treasured acres. And, certainly, with the Bush tax cuts, two wars and an aging baby boom population increasingly demanding health care and Social Security payments, there isn't exactly a lot of money lying around Washington to spend willy-nilly. But the generational shift evidenced by all those aging Baby Boomers also means that large tracts of pristine lands are being passed down from one generation to the next, leaving huge expanses of unique wilderness vulnerable to new development.
All the presidential candidates talk big about environmental stewardship often, even, invoking a responsibility directed from God, or at least the Boy Scouts of America. It isn't an issue talked much about, but the state of the national parks and the national wildlife in general gets very little detailed discussion.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.