An independent panel urges congress to increase National Park spending by at least $700 million over the next seven years just days before a documentary about history of National Parks airs on PBS. Coincidence, or shrewd political acumen?

The committee calling itself the Bipartisan National Parks Second Century Commission urged president Obama to appoint a panel charged with promoting the parks and raising private money in time for the 100th anniversary in 2016. Doing so, they argue, would increase tourism, promote enjoyment, and help preserve national treasures.

The committee is chaired by former senators Howard Baker and J. Bennett, and composed of scientists, historians, conservations, academics, business leaders, policy experts, and retired National Park executives. They issued a 52 page report to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who responded by saying that Obama already planned to issue a $100 million National Park spending increase next year. An administration that actually sees eye to eye with the progressive opinions of an independent panel–we haven’t seen that in a few years.

Turns out the committee is well aware of the convenience of timing and hopes that the documentary will help spur further interest in the parks. The documentary entitled “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” was filmed by Ken Burns and will air as a six-part series on PBS through October 2nd.

The National Parks will follow Burn’s previous works (Jazz, Baseball, The Civil War) and focus less on the parks themselves, and more on the impact they have had on generations of Americans.

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