A conservation group's annual list of the 10 "most endangered" national parks has six holdovers from last year, still considered victims of dirty air, inadequate funding and bad policy.
The National Parks Conservation Association again named Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas as well as five national parks: Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee; Joshua Tree in California; Shenandoah in Virginia; Everglades in Florida; and Yellowstone in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The group said air pollution threatens many of the parks. In addition, it said there are problems with private land sales and potential oil and gas drilling in Big Thicket; development along park borders in Joshua Tree; non-native species damage in Shenandoah; management and funding questions in the Everglades; and lack of money and bison slaughters in Yellowstone.
Thomas Kiernan, the association's president, said the main problem is the annual $600 million shortfall for operating needs in the National Park Service's $2.3 billion budget.
Park Service spokeswoman Elaine Sevy said the association's interest in parks is appreciated. "We'll look at what they have to say, and see how it compares with what our research is showing, and with how we're addressing many of the issues they raise," she said.
The group had three new places and one program on its list this year:
- Biscayne National Park in Florida, due to overfishing and water pollution.
- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, from lack of money for protecting plants and wildlife.
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska, because of land scarred from ATV use and potential road-building.
- National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, cited for inadequate money for preserving the history of slavery and the civil rights movement.
The four they replaced from last year's list are Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska; Virgin Islands National Park; Glacier National Park in Montana; and Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia.
For more information go to the website of the National Parks Conservation Association (www.npca.org).