Kilmer, Reichert, Hurd, and Hanabusa to Interior Secretary: Park Maintenance Backlog Must Be Solved

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Will Hurd (R-TX), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) sent a bipartisan letter, with the support of 14 of their colleagues, to the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, opposing a recent proposal issued by the National Park Service to significantly increase the peak season entrance fees at 17 of the Nation’s most visited national parks.  The letter highlights concerns over the potential impacts to visitor access and the economies of gateway communities and calls on the Secretary to work with Congress to develop a proposal to responsibly address the maintenance backlog.

“The proposed increase would roughly triple the cost of visiting these parks during the peak season,” wrote the Members. “This increase would have a profound effect on both those seeking to visit the parks, as well as the gateway communities who depend on these visitors to support local businesses and economies. We believe that all options should be on the table and urge the Administration to continue working with Congress in a bipartisan manner to develop a comprehensive solution, including increasing federal investments that will generate the kind of revenue needed to meaningfully address the backlog without impacting visitation.”

The Members also highlight the National Park Service Legacy Act (H.R. 2584) as a bipartisan strategy to address the maintenance backlog without significantly increasing entrance fees and urge Secretary Zinke to consider this legislation as part of a responsible, long-term approach to repairing roads, visitor facilities, trails, and other park structures. The Legacy Act would provide dedicated annual federal funding from unobligated offshore and onshore mineral royalties to pay down the $11.3 billion maintenance backlog. The NPS is accepting public comments on the proposed fee increase through November 23rd, but the letter calls on the Secretary to extend the comment period to allow individuals sufficient time to weigh in.  

The full text of the letter can be found here