Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Traces Congressional Gridlock on Land Conservation to Emergence of Anti-parks Caucus
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Traces Congressional Gridlock on Land Conservation to Emergence of Anti-parks Caucus

New Center for American Progress Polling Shows Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Protecting National Parks

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis by the Center for American Progress finds that the recent gridlock on traditionally bipartisan conservation issues in the U.S. Congress can be traced to the emergence of a powerful group of 20 legislators. This group seeks to burnish its anti-government credentials by undermining protections for national parks and calling for the sale of public lands.

CAP also released new public opinion research that finds that 77 percent of voters believe that the United States benefits from national parks and the National Park System either a “great deal” or “fair amount.” Only 6 percent believe that national parks and the National Parks System provide “not much” benefit to the United States. The findings were consistent along party lines.

The brief profiles the ideological aims of the group—which CAP has dubbed the anti-parks caucus—reviews its members’ records on national parks and public lands issues, and explores how these legislators have gained power and influence in advancing their troubling agenda.

“In this centennial year for the National Park System, Americans are rightly mystified by why Congress is trying to dismantle the nation’s proud bipartisan conservation tradition by selling off public lands and stopping the creation of new parks,” said Jenny Rowland, Research and Advocacy Associate at the Center for American Progress and author of the brief. “The recent rise in congressional attacks on national parks can be traced to the emergence of this small anti-parks caucus that—thankfully—does not reflect the values of most Americans or even most members of Congress.”

The CAP analysis finds that the anti-parks caucus appears to be an outgrowth of the Tea Party takeover of 2010. Members of the anti-parks caucus share certain characteristics: they tend to either be Tea Party members, have faced Tea Party primary challengers, or are in non-competitive districts.

The survey of 1,024 registered voters was conducted from January 11 to January 17 by Hart Research Associates—a leading national public opinion research firm—and assessed respondents’ attitudes and opinions relating to America’s national parks and public lands and examined Americans’ priorities for the centennial of the National Park System.

“The anti-parks caucus should be understood for what it is: a small group of ideological and determined politicians that are playing to a narrow anti-government constituency,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, Senior Fellow and Director of Public Lands at CAP. “A core challenge of this centennial year is to overcome the damaging agenda of the anti-parks caucus and to reaffirm the broad bipartisan support that America’s national parks and public lands have earned over the last century.”

According to the Hart Research survey, “protecting the National Park System,” “repairing and restoring national parks,” and “protecting more national wonders and historical places as national parks,” were the standout priorities of voters for the national parks. Additionally, the survey found that 83 percent of voters felt “favorable” or “very favorable” towards their representative in Congress taking “a strong stand in in support of policies to protect and strengthen the national parks.”

See the full brief here. For full survey results click here.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.