July 24, 2002

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

The Shamful State of Our National Parks
I have to believe that your viewers, readers, online users, listeners will care about this story…

At some National parks, there are so few rangers that vandals are walking away with ancient artifacts. The Washington Post reports, “During the 2000 campaign, Bush said the national park system was in “worse shape than ever” and vowed to erase a huge, $4.9 billion backlog of maintenance and road improvement projects within five years. So far, the administration has managed to make only a tiny dent in that backlog, while many of the nation’s most prominent parks continue to suffer from years of budget parsimony. At Yellowstone National Park, for example, repeated spills at worn-out water treatment plants have dumped untreated waste into the pristine waters of Yellowstone Lake, the Firehole River and other park waterways, according to a comprehensive national survey by Americans for National Parks. Acadia National Park in Maine lacks the staff to adequately patrol the park’s complex, 115-mile boundary — leaving miles of roads and trails vulnerable to damage from illegal snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle use, trail cutting and poaching.”

• Find a National Park in your state — a clickable map:
• National Park Service Budget details:

During the past six years, the Park Service’s operating budget has grown an average of 6.2 percent annually — from $1 billion in fiscal 1997 to $1.47 billion in 2001. Americans for National Parks, a coalition of advocacy groups, contends that the national parks are operating with only two thirds of the operating funds they need. On average, park operations suffer from an annual funding shortfall of at least 32 percent, or about $600 million, according to the group.

Based on a preliminary review of 33 national parks, Americans for National Parks found that spending for natural and cultural resource management as well as interpretive and educational services for visitors fell 40 percent short of what was needed.

The New Bikes

I have seen a lot of new bicycles in my neighborhood this spring. They are very different from the bikes we had as kids. These are called recumbent bikes.

Here is a picture of one.

The Baltimore Sun says
, “Recumbent riders make up only about 2 percent of the cycling population, but as baby boomers head away from competing and more toward comfort, they’re finding the recumbent to be like a rolling recliner.

Says Larry Pierce of Lantana, Fla., who switched from an upright bike to a recumbent to avoid aching shoulders, neck and hands: “Recumbent riding is a different mind-set. I got over that macho thing years ago. I don’t have anything to prove, unless it’s that I can ride my recumbent as much as I want.”

Here is a bike shop Q and A

What a great springtime feature, and you will be telling a story that few of your readers, viewers, listeners, online users know anything about.

Teacher Pay Not Keeping Pace

A study out this month from the National Education Association says teachers’ salaries increased by 3 percent during the decade spanning from 1991-2001 when adjusted for inflation. This increase works out to an average annual rate of 0.3 percent a year, according to NEA’s report Rankings and Estimates 2000-2001. During this same period, school revenue receipts, total expenditures, and per-pupil expenditures increased significantly.
See state by state pay/national rankings

New Jersey, Connecticut, California are at the top; Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota are at the bottom

Median pay is $38,361

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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