"Congress, We Have A Problem"

Earth Day 1996

April 1, 1996

"Congress, We Have A Problem": Selling National Treasures

There are few uses of taxpayer dollars that enjoy such enthusiastic and heartfelt support as America's national parks, recreation areas, seashores, and monuments. They are a treasure unparalleled, visited each year by 260 million people.

Yet in 1995, leaders in Congress attempted to pass legislation designed in the main to close or sell hundreds of prized pieces of the national park system. In fact, H.R. 260, the so-called National Park System Reform Act, introduced by Representative Hefley of Colorado, was the first substantive piece of legislation considered by the House Committee on Resources in the 104th Congress.

Although H.R. 260 did not target the flagship parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite, many revered and historic monuments, national seashores, recreation areas, and national battlefields were targeted for closure or privatization by H.R. 260.

How it Hurts America

H.R. 260 would threaten to close or sell off hundreds of national treasures, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty
  • The birthplaces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Historic sites dedicated to Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Wright Brothers
  • The Jefferson Memorial and The Washington Monument
  • The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
  • Mount Rushmore
  • The Cape Cod, Cape Hatteras, Fire Island, Padre Island and Point Reyes National Seashores
  • The Glen Canyon and Golden Gate National Recreation Areas
  • The Gettysburg, Antietam and Vicksburg Battlefields