February 15, 2019

Effort To Tackle National Park Service's Maintenance Backlog Renewed In Congress

With a new Congress underway in Washington, a bipartisan effort to tackle the National Park System's nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog has been renewed in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

On Thursday, Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Warner of Virginia, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Angus King of Maine reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act. In the House, Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah and Derek Kilmer of Washington also reintroduced the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. The House bill is identical to the bill introduced in the 115th Congress and the Senate bill is the version reported out of committee in the 115th Congress.  

The Restore Our Parks Act would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. The $6.5 billion in funding envisioned by the legislation would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

“For years, our national parks have been plagued with underfunding while also dealing with a mounting backlog of repair needs, totaling nearly $12 billion. Grand Canyon’s water and sewer systems, built during World War II, are failing," noted Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association.

"Roads in Yellowstone that were originally built in 1905 for carriages, not the millions of cars and RVs that use them today, are sinking. Thanks to the leadership of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King, park staff could get the funding they need to fix our national parks. The bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act would make a much needed and significant investment to address these and so many more infrastructure needs in national parks across the country, ensuring they are ready to welcome the next generation of park visitors."

The Traveler last year produced a lengthy series on the problems the maintenance backlog has created across the National Park System. You can find the stories here.

“The Restore Our Parks Act would provide billions of dollars to address the multibillion-dollar repair backlog at our national parks,” said Marcia Argust, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ project to restore America’s parks. “This investment would help preserve these treasured places and support sites that generate more than $18 billion in annual spending in nearby communities by park visitors.” 

By:  Staff
Source: National Parks Traveler