Saving America's National Parks


Wednesday, September 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PhotoPoint.com, the Internet's largest and most visited free photo-sharing website, announced it will spearhead a nationwide campaign to save America's endangered National Parks. PhotoPoint's One For The Parks program is an unprecedented, grass-roots campaign that marries the power of individual petitioning with the emotional impact of photographs.

One For The Parks makes it simple for Americans with Internet access to easily send photos and e-postcards of their favorite National Park to the President and Senate representatives. In addition to showcasing the beauty and sacred qualities of the National Parks, the postcards present personal messages that "lobby" the recipients to save the National Park System from its current state of crisis, and call for one-percent of the federal budget surplus -- "One For The Parks" -- to be spent on desperately needed repairs, maintenance and overall preservation.

Creating and sending the postcards is easy and completely free of charge. Participants can log onto www.photopoint.com and learn more about how to send their postcards to the President and their Senators in order to help save the parks.

Funds Needed to Restore Infrastructure

The ambitious program, which is also being supported by a national ad campaign, is designed to inspire the public to galvanize the government to earmark this small amount of money. These funds already exist and PhotoPoint believes that one-percent is enough to restore the badly damaged infrastructure of the parks after years of neglect. The campaign will run through the end of the year, allowing participants to take full advantage of the Summer vacation season -- the busiest time of year for the National Parks -- and the upcoming Presidential election.

"One of the single most effective forms of lobbying is when people like you and me write letters to our Government representatives telling them what we think about particular issues," said David Rowley, president and co-founder of PhotoPoint.com. "We've chosen to get behind the One For The Parks program because we believe that by combining the emotional impact of online photo-sharing with the power of personal appeal, PhotoPoint can make a huge difference in making people aware of the crisis now faced by America's National Parks, and in encouraging the leaders who have the power to save the Parks to act. We believe the photos on these cards, and the personal messages that accompany them, will generate significant results."

Participants in PhotoPoint's One For The Parks program have the option of using their own personal National Park photos or a choice of thousands of photos already in PhotoPoint's National Parks photo gallery. Just by entering one's own state, the cards will be automatically addressed to the President and two corresponding US senators. The words will be different, but the message to each will be the same: "I'm One For The Parks. It's time you were One For The Parks too."

Hardly a Walk in the Park

After decades of record crowds and inadequate budgets, the National Parks throughout America enter the 21st century with a $6 billion to $9 billion backlog of deferred repairs, maintenance and preservation work. The National Park Service reports that $6.7 billion is needed immediately to repair roads, bridges, historic structures, employee housing, utility lines and for land restoration. The crisis is far-reaching; everything from the redwood forests to the gulfstream waters in the Parks are starved for the most basic healthcare.

"Some of our national parks are becoming a national disgrace. But if America has the will, we will find the way to rescue even the most endangered park," said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Funds Already in Place

PhotoPoint's One For The Parks proposal calls for one-percent of the federal budget surplus, currently estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at between $1.1 trillion and $1.6 trillion over the next five years, to be allocated for all the currently deferred National Park projects until the work is completed -- effectively eliminating this backlog.

PhotoPoint in spearheading the One For The Parks program -- started as a small grass roots campaign by The Parks Company, publisher of the National Parks Catalog, in July 1999 -- in conjunction with The Parks Company. According to Joe Galliani, founding partner of The Parks Company, there's never been a more critical time to support the National Parks System.

"The good news is our National Parks are still the most spectacular and magnificent places on the planet," said Galliani. "That's the beauty of this project -- it doesn't cost anyone a penny because the money to fix the Parks is already in the bank waiting to go to work. This is about us as a people living up to Teddy Roosevelt's call to preserve and protect the Parks for our children and our children's children. If we don't, who will?"