Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 10, 2021

National Parks and Public Lands Are Key to President Biden’s Plan to ‘Build Back Better’

National Parks Conservation Association News Release

President Biden ran on the promise to build our nation back better, and our national parks, public lands and waters play a critical role in achieving this ambitious goal.

during a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, President Biden laid out details for his “Build Back Better” green-infrastructure package, which would provide major investments in clean energy, clean cars and trucks, infrastructure projects, and environmental justice. President Biden ran on the promise to build our nation back better, and our national parks, public lands and waters play a critical role in achieving this ambitious goal.

The effects of climate change are happening now, and all of our more than 400 national parks are suffering. From melting glaciers to record flooding to disastrous wildfires, our parks and surrounding communities are at the forefront of the climate crisis in our country and offer one of our best solutions for tackling it. As the Biden administration deploys its “Build Back Better” plan, it must also restore and build our national parks and communities stronger in order to truly combat the environmental threats facing our country, starting by:

Build: Rebuilding crumbling park and community infrastructure like roads, bridges, trails and visitor centers, as well as prioritizing innovative designs that are resistant to intensifying climate threats.

  • Rebuilding with more resilient and nature-based infrastructure when parks like Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks and surrounding communities and businesses have been devastated by record-setting hurricanes to better withstand future storms or sea level rise.
  • Incorporating stormwater controls, solar panels, electric shuttle buses and vehicle stations and other renewable energy projects in national park facilities across the country.
  • Expanding renewable energy projects in places like the California desert, urban park communities and beyond in order to reduce pollution that dirties the air we breathe and water we drink.

Back: Restoring and reconnecting our public lands, waters and wildlife corridors to curb carbon emissions and better help protect our nation’s natural and cultural resources from the growing threat of climate change.

  • Restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem, home to seven national parks like Indiana Dunes National Park and Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, protects important coastal wetlands that provide critical habitat to wildlife, reduce runoff pollution from industrial agriculture and provide clean and safe drinking water for over 30 million people.
  • Ensuring wildlife habitat connectivity between national parks and other public lands, including migration paths for caribou in Gates of the Arctic National Preserve and pronghorn antelope in Yellowstone National Park, will help to ensure important park species and their habitats are more resilient in the face of the ongoing biodiversity crisis.

Better: Planning for our future with policies and protections that phase out greenhouse gas pollution to safeguard our climate and lands and waters within and beyond park borders.

  • Engaging with local communities to support a just transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources that will limit pollution. And ensuring our most vulnerable communities, which bear disproportionate burden from climate threats, have a voice in decisions that impact how their lands are managed.
  • Supporting emissions-reducing policies for vehicles and increasing public transit, electric vehicles and other improvements in parks and surrounding communities in order to improve park air quality and public health.
  • Adapting park landscapes by using natural systems, such as mangroves and salt marshes in Everglades National Park and Assateague Island National Seashore and restoring coral reefs and reducing pollution going into our oceans.

Statement from Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“Climate change, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and racial disparities are all having a major impact on our country. Our national parks and public lands are also overwhelmed by these same threats. But these challenges also present opportunities to mark a new era for our public lands and communities. With the innovative and bold solutions President Biden laid out today, we can tackle these challenges and make our national parks, and their air, water and wildlife stronger and better than ever before.

“We need an investment plan that goes beyond simply rebuilding existing park roads and bridges and includes a new focus on resilient infrastructure that can withstand intensifying climate change impacts. We must prioritize protecting wildlife and their habitats and reach for bold goals like moving our country towards a decarbonized future. And above all, we must put local communities at the forefront in restoring our national parks and public lands.

“By addressing these infrastructure needs and supporting clean energy at national parks across the country, the administration and Congress will not only help protect our parks for future generations but also generate tens of thousands of infrastructure-related jobs, bringing much-needed relief to local communities suffering through hard times.

“President Biden has pledged to build our communities and public lands back better than ever. This is a difficult task, but we all must rise to this challenge if we want to protect our national parks for our children and grandchildren to experience. We will hold the President and Congress to this promise and work alongside everyone to set a new course for a better, stronger and more inclusive National Park System.”


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