Gardner's Boggsville Boondoggle
Cory Gardner was recently "pleased to announce" that the National Park Service was looking at the Boggsville Historic area as a potential Unit for federal preservation. The site looks to be an important historic site, so I can't fault the NPS for looking at it. But I have my doubts about whether Gardner should be touting the study, seeing as his GOP Congress cut more than $140 million from the NPS budget this year.
Gardner's budget cutting fanaticism is completely at odds with his desire to tout federal programs that will help Colorado's communities. The Boggsville site is currently funded by the Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County and I'm sure they could use some help. Further, the site appears to fit nicely with the area's federally funded historical sites, including Bent's Old Fort, already operated by the NPS.
However, the NPS currently is underfunded by $500-$600 million, with additional cuts on the horizon because of Gardner and the GOP. Much more funding is needed for construction and staffing at existing NPS sites. It seems impossible to imagine that the federal government should be looking at additional costs through taking over more historic sites in Colorado with about a half billion dollars in existing budgets. The National Parks Conservation Association reports that National Parks funding has decreased 13% in the past ten years.
Further, the site will not become a National Park administered site until Congress acts again, multiple times. Existing law requires that Congress specifically authorize funding for an extensive feasibility and suitability study. Let's think... What do you call it when Congress passed an appropriations bill that specifically authorizes funding for a project in a single Congressional District? An earmark. For the NPS to officially study the site, as opposed to the current prelim study, Gardner will have to pass an earmark for it.
Next, to actually become a National Park Unit, Congress will have to pass a law to create the National Park Historical Site, and make the land federal property. That requires additional money, which will also look an awful lot like an earmark.
Gardner's press release was just an announcement that, if reelected, he will increase funding to the Department of the Interior, will start to put earmarks in bills, and will push a law to increase the amount of land that the federal government owns.
That seems to be at odds with the message he usually sends out...