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The Parks' Biggest Problem

Yellowstone was spared one threat by the recent agreement to stop development of a gold mine near its boundaries. But a bigger, longer-term threat remains.

The nation's oldest national park, and its sister parks, face a fiscal crisis. Visitors are increasing year by year while the budget is slipping. The effect on park buildings, roads, and ranger staffs isn't missed by anyone who tries to visit a closed museum or steer around a pothole.

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This scene could change if Congress passes legislation to allow (with safeguards against overcommercialization) private sponsorship of parks and reasonable hikes in park fees. Greater income from private concessions located in many parks should also be allowed.

The situation of overused, underfunded parks has gone on much too long. This is one national financial obligation few Americans would quibble about. Congress should see to it before another yearly flood of tourists flows into Yellowstone.

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