Bush pledges effort to renew national parks

President Bush, eager to answer critics of his environmental record, promised in an address at Sequoia National Park Wednesday to protect "these works of God" for the ages, the Associated Press reported.

Bush announced a new directive calling for rangers to conduct annual reviews of each national park, and he renewed his call for a five-year, $5 billion effort to address a heavy maintenance backlog.

Sequoia National Park is completing a $74 million renovation that built a new lodge and removed some 300 structures that threatened the giant sequoias. A wide array of maintenance issues plague the 57 national parks and 327 other natural and historic sites that make up the national park system.

The White House provided for no new park acquisitions in its budget request to Congress this year. Instead, the Interior Department was told to focus on Bush's campaign promise to clear up a $4.9 billion backlog of park maintenance and repairs. Bush sent Congress a proposal last month to pay for a portion of his pledge--$439.6 million for fiscal 2002.

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