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As noted in recent articles in The Gazette, both Glacier and Yellowstone national parks are on track to break visitation records this year. In 2010 alone, more than 2.2 million visitors poured into Glacier to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road and to backpack, hike, fish and camp. Similarly, 3.5 million people have flocked to Yellowstone this year to explore the world's most popular geyser, Old Faithful.

Supporting this trend, our recent analysis shows that in 2009, Glacier saw an increase in visitation of 12.4 percent and Yellowstone saw an increase of 7.5 percent. Although both parks have experienced record visitation the past few years, the proposed National Park Service budget for the coming fiscal year calls for cutting Glacier's operating budget by $134,000 and Yellowstone's by $442,000. These cuts, on top of a history of underfunding, could cause Glacier and Yellowstone to fall into disrepair just when more and more people are turning to them.

We thank Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester for their commitment to our national parks, but now is the time to persuade their colleagues to fully fund the National Park Service with the resources they need to protect our parks and safeguard Montana's natural heritage.

Mollie Allers, State Associate

Environment Montana

Missoula

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