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Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Jump Start Overdue Maintenance Projects in National Parks

May 22, 2017
Press Release
Bipartisan legislation from Hurd, Kilmer, Hanabusa, and Reichert would help reduce the more than $11 billion park maintenance backlog

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) introduced a bipartisan bill to jump start overdue maintenance projects in national parks. The National Park Service Legacy Act would provide investments that would go toward reducing the more than $11 billion backlog the National Park Service faces to repair roads, visitor facilities, trails, and other park structures. Similar legislation was previously introduced by Senators Warner (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH).

The act would address the backlog by distributing currently unassigned federal mineral revenues back into a restoration fund. It has been endorsed by the National Parks Conservation Association, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“National Parks are a part of the American experience and the seven in my district, including Big Bend and the San Antonio Missions, provide immeasurable cultural, environmental and economic benefits. We have a responsibility as a nation to care for these treasures, yet in Texas alone, there are roughly $147 million in backlogged National Park maintenance projects,” said U.S. Representative Will Hurd. “This bill will provide more flexible financing options and revenue sources so that our parks can remain beautiful and accessible for future generations of park-goers to enjoy.”

“I grew up near Olympic National Park and gained an appreciation for how much our national parks do to captivate visitors and create jobs,” said Kilmer. “But many of our most iconic landscapes and historical buildings are falling into disrepair. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort that will be an economic boost to rural communities and keep our parks accessible for future generations.” 

“America’s National Parks are irreplaceable public treasures that must be maintained for future generations,” said Hanabusa. “With deferred maintenance costs increasing annually relative to past appropriations, Congress must find new and novel revenue streams to preserve these critical lands and habitats for the enjoyment of all. The bipartisan National Park Service Legacy Act is the right solution at the right time and I thank my colleagues, Representatives Kilmer, Hurd and Reichert, for their vision and determination to address deferred maintenance in our national parks.”  

“National parks are valuable for so many reasons. They are economic engines for gateway communities, provide recreational opportunities for hundreds of millions of people, and protect our country’s natural and cultural heritage. Yet for far too long, our parks have been underfunded. So we shouldn’t be surprised that, as a result, they’re facing a $12 billion maintenance backlog. Buildings are crumbling, roads need repairs, trails are overgrown, and aging sewer systems are at risk of failing. This backlog will only continue to grow unless we take action. This bipartisan, bicameral proposal makes a strong investment that our parks desperately need and deserve. Parks unify people, and Congress should be no different. Lawmakers should seize this opportunity, put forth by Representatives Hurd, Kilmer, Hanabusa, and Reichert, to help fix our parks and recognize the value they provide,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association.

“We commend Representatives Hurd, Kilmer, Hanabusa and Reichert for introducing bipartisan legislation that will help fund the much needed repair and preservation of historic and cultural resources in our national parks,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “From Texas’ San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to Olympic National Park in Washington, historic buildings and sites at our national parks and monuments tell the story of America. Along with the Senate companion bill introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Rob Portman, this legislation will address the almost $12 billion critical maintenance backlog plaguing our national parks and allow these special places to continue to tell our stories to future generations of Americans.”

“This bill proves that the call for Congress to fix our aging parks is being heard. More than 75 municipalities have passed resolutions asking Congress to restore our park infrastructure. And more than 1,800 organizations, businesses, associations, chambers of commerce, and elected officials have signed a letter urging congressional lawmakers to provide dedicated funding to repair the national parks by reducing the size of their deferred maintenance backlog,” said Marcia Argust, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Restore America’s Parks Project.

Founded in 1916, the National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for managing more than 84 million acres comprised of over 400 significant cultural, historic, and natural areas across all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and four territories.