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BACKPACKER's Interview with McCain and Obama

Candidates weigh in on parks, the environment, and their favorite hike

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Less than three weeks to go, America—let’s get ready to suuuuufffffraaaaage! This is one of the hottest elections ever, yo. In a year of ups and downs at the polls, the horrible economic situation of late seems to have put Barack Obama on top for now, but John McCain will have one more chance to prove his claim of being the ultimate comeback kid in tonight’s final presidential debate.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain represent distinct political personalities with divergent policy positions on everything from energy to health care to the environment. But which one best represent’s the all-important backpacker lobby? Both candidates sat down with BACKPACKER to answer ten tough questions that matter to you. A sampling:

How about funding national parks and protecting open spaces?

Obama National parks funding and protecting open space will fall within a larger environmental agenda that puts the interest of science and the American people above that of the special interests who have controlled the debate in Washington for far too long. Especially as we approach the centennial celebration of the national parks system, I believe it provides us with an opportunity to have an open discussion about the future of U.S. environmental laws. And I will also address the serious backlog issues we have with our national parks, and make good on the promise that President Bush has broken.

McCain I have a strong and consistent record in the Senate for fully funding our national parks. I was the lead sponsor for the National Parks Centennial Act, which would have eliminated all national parks’ annual operating deficits. I have been proud to support greater funding for our parks, but fully protecting, restoring, and enjoying our national parks will require more than just additional funding. We need to give the national park service guiding policies that properly balance park protection and public enjoyment of our nation’s natural treasures. By the National Park System’s centennial we will have a park system that showcases the best educational, environmental, and civic engagement programs in the world.

The National Parks Conservation Association reports that both candidates have made commitments toward ensuring the National Park System has the funding to meet its maintenance backlog by 2016, the centennial of the NPS. McCain is also pushing for a National Parks Centennial Fund, a program to repair the parks through a mix of public and private funding.

Check out our entire interview with the presidential candidates right here. And don’t forget to watch tonight’s debate…and vote!

—Ted Alvarez

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