LETTERS: Congress must better fund national parks

In 2016, we celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service. As a former congressman and native Nevadan, I supported the national parks because they are treasures, and because Americans love these parks and want them protected and maintained. Yet there is still great need for lawmakers to adequately fund our national parks.

A recent article noted that Lake Mead National Recreation Area ranks as the fifth most-visited park in the nation (“Lake Mead had 7.2M visitors in 2015,” Feb. 19 Review-Journal). Not only do locals enjoy the lake, but 20 percent of the 42 million visitors who fly to Nevada visit national park units such as Great Basin, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon.

In 2014, Lake Mead had 6.9 million recreation visits and more than $290 million in visitor spending, greatly influencing Nevada’s state and local economies. However, Lake Mead needs approximately $170 million in infrastructure repairs, including roads, park facilities and campgrounds. It is time for Congress to provide dedicated annual funding to make critical repairs within our greatest national treasures.

James H. Bilbray

Las Vegas

The writer is a former congressman, representing Nevada’s 1st Congressional District from 1987-1994.

Appropriate pets

The vast number of baby rabbits, chicks and ducks given as Easter gifts will die within a few weeks. People buy these cute animals with good intentions, not realizing they have complicated needs. They require special feeding and constant temperatures, and they are frail and not meant to be handled by children.

This Easter, help prevent unnecessary cruelty by instead giving your children stuffed animals. After the holiday, if your family is ready for a pet, consider an adoptable dog or cat from our local shelter or a rescue group. Animals are not toys. Nothing with a heartbeat should be given as one.

Linda Faso

Las Vegas

Medicare Issues

For the past few years, the Medicare Advantage program has barely escaped funding cuts proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Unfortunately, it has undergone a series of other cuts that have impacted costs and benefits. If our elected officials don’t stand up for the more than 15 million seniors on Medicare Advantage, the program’s budget might be slashed this year.

Rep. Joe Heck has been a strong supporter of seniors and a tough opponent of these cuts. With the 2016 election looming, his colleagues would be wise to join him in supporting Medicare Advantage.

My husband and I use our insurance quite a bit. The premiums are fairly reasonable. If funds are cut from Medicare Advantage, the additional expense would have a big impact on our fixed budget.

Millions of seniors face similar problems. We should all be able to have quality health insurance that we can afford. The Coalition for Medicare Choices now has 2 million members, mostly seniors, committed to spreading the word about these proposed cuts. A huge percentage of seniors vote, and they will be there on Election Day 2016 to support candidates who truly represent them and their health care choices.

Judith Poole

Henderson

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