July 02, 2018
STONINGTON, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues including Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), to introduce the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS). The consensus proposal is the product of bipartisan discussions among the senators who had previously introduced similar bills, the National Park Service Legacy Act (Warner/Portman) and the National Park Restoration Act (Alexander/King). In addition to these four members, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) are cosponsors of the bill.
“Our national parks amaze, astound, and awe millions of Americans each year – but in order to accommodate so many visitors, the parks need to be well-maintained,” Senator King said. “The existing $12 billion maintenance backlog threatens to prevent future generations from accessing these beautiful public lands, which is simply unacceptable. This bipartisan legislation would help address this backlog, and ensure that parks from Acadia to Zion will remain open and available for years to come.”
Senator King is an avid supporter of the National Park System, and during his tenure in the Senate has pushed for modernizations to make the parks more accessible to future generations, including the implementation of a pilot program to make entrance passes for parks available online, that was lauded in a Subcommittee hearing last year. The program has been particularly successful in Acadia National Park (ANP): Acadia accounts for 72% of total sales in the pilot program, and online purchases accounted for 10% of the park’s total entrance fee receipts in 2016.
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. This funding 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. This consensus legislation has been praised by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association.
“Since my confirmation hearing, I’ve been adamant that we must address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our National Parks. I’m happy to see Senators Portman, Warner, King and Alexander teamed up to craft a very strong and historic bill to rebuild our national parks,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Park infrastructure is about access for all Americans. In order for families, children, elderly grandparents, or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue, and I think that the bipartisan body of lawmakers who put this bill forward is proof. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Administration and Congress to see this come to fruition.”
“National parks bring people together and help bridge political party lines. Under the leadership of Senators Warner, Portman, Alexander and King, this compromise legislation will put a significant investment into the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog needs. We commend the leadership of these park champions for their bill that makes a strong investment in our parks that they desperately need and deserve. America’s national parks include our most treasured landscapes and historic and cultural sites that must be protected and maintained so that future generations have the opportunity to learn about the people and places that have shaped our nation’s legacy,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association.
“Pew has been committed to ensuring that the best provisions of the various deferred maintenance measures are incorporated into a final proposal that can be enacted and will provide a significant reduction to the national parks backlog,” said Marcia Argust, project director for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ ‘Restore America’s Parks’ campaign. “The compromise bill introduced today by Sens. Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King meets that goal.”
“OIA applauds this bipartisan effort to solve the National Park Service backlog issue and appreciates the dedication of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King to this effort. The backlog impacts the recreation economy and American’s ability to explore and enjoy their public lands. As we know, and the support for bills like National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund shows, the health and vitality of America’s public lands system is a bipartisan issue that unites us. We look forward to continued progress and appreciate the Senate bill sponsors’ focus on the critical infrastructure that supports the growing $887 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association.