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July 7, 2005
Contact: Jennifer Zuccarelli or Matt Streit (202) 226-9019

National Security Risks in Our National Parks

Hundreds of Thousands Illegally Cross U.S. Border via Parks;
Subcommittee to Visit New Mexico for Field Hearing

Washington , DC
- The House Subcommittee on National Parks will visit Carlsbad , NM for an oversight field hearing Sat., July 9 on National Park Service Involvement in Border Security. U.S. Border Patrol estimated 250,000 people and large quantities of drugs illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in 2001 through 365 miles of land managed by the National Park Service.

"Americans and their families deserve the right to enjoy the majesty of our national parks free from the fear of terrorism and crime," said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM). "Protecting these cathedrals of nature is not just our moral obligation; it remains one of the chief national security challenges our nation confronts."

Federal land constitutes 31 percent of the America 's Mexican border and 14 percent of its Canadian border. International terrorist attacks since 2001 have heightened security concerns for these areas.

"President Bush and Congress worked hard on many fronts to protect our national security in the post-Sept.11 world. But people who want to hurt the United States look for every opportunity to exploit our friendly relationships with our North American neighbors," said Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA). "We must ensure the best protection possible within our Parks."

Although security appropriations for Park Service increased significantly after the 2001 attacks, additional national safety measures took millions of dollars from other park management funds, including $9 million just to respond to Code Orange alerts. The subcommittee will examine how the Park Service can balance protecting national security with its stated mission of protecting park resources.

"I look forward to chairing my first hearing on this issue near one of God's greatest gifts to America: Carlsbad Caverns," Pearce said.

Who: Subcommittee on National Parks
What : Oversight Field Hearing
"National Park Service Involvement in Border Security: Is it their Responsibility?"
When : Sat., July 9 1:00 p.m.
Where :
River Village Conference Facility, Room 4
711 Muscatel Ave.
Carlsbad , NM 88220
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