Neighbor communities lobby for parks

WASHINGTON -- Communities that serve as gateways to national parks have formed the National Alliance of Gateway Communities (NAGC) lobby Congress on behalf of the parks, forests and other federal public lands.

Bob Warren, general manager of the Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau/Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association in Redding, Calif., was elected president of the organization.

"Places like Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Carlsbad, N. M., are very tied into the fortunes of the particular public land that they happen to be close to," said Aubrey King, Washington representative for the group. "We are talking about communities that are more dependent on travel and tourism than any other communities in the country."

King said the NAGC intends to develop relationships with federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, to support initiatives that benefit public lands, visitors and gateway communities.

"For example, there is legislation in Congress that could bring about some changes in the Land Water Conservation Fund, which for the last three or four decades has been the main source for funding for land acquisition" by both federal and state governments, King said.

NAGC also is monitoring funding for public land agencies and supports the Clinton administration's budget proposal, which includes $2 billion for the national park system. "It was certainly gratifying to see the extent to which the President's budget recognizes the need for more investment," King said.

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