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February 14, 2019

King, Colleagues Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Address National Park Service Maintenance Backlog

Conservation & Recreation Groups Praise Bipartisan Legislation to Address $12 Billion National Park Service Backlog in Deferred and Overdue Maintenance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, joined Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today in reintroducing the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS). The legislation has 21 additional original cosponsors, including Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), and a similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives today with more than 90 cosponsors.

“From Acadia to Zion, the National Park System captures our country’s diverse natural beauty and is a proud reminder of America’s dedication to preserving public land for all its citizens,” said Senator King. “As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.’ We have a collective responsibility to maintain this spirit of the wilderness in our National Parks – and this starts with the $12 billion maintenance backlog. With strong bipartisan support, this bill will ensure our parks are well-maintained so generations of visitors can experience the wonders of our National Parks for years to come.”

“For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country,” said Senator Portman. “My visits to various national parks in Ohio last year made it clear that we must pass this legislation to ensure that they have sufficient resources to maintain our national parks. This bill will create the Legacy Restoration Fund to provide the National Park Service with funds for deferred maintenance projects. This legislation will also help tackle the more than $100 million in maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national parks and will ensure the National Park Service can continue preserving American treasures like Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”

“The deferred maintenance backlog at national park sites in Virginia is currently over a billion dollars. The Commonwealth trails only California and the District of Columbia in total deferred maintenance needs. Colonial National Historical Park, which is home to Historic Jamestown and Yorktown Battlefield, has over $400 million in deferred maintenance needs alone,” said Senator Warner. “We owe it to our Commonwealth and to our country to pass this bill and clear the $12 billion maintenance backlog that is holding back essential repairs and renovations at our cherished national parks. This problem will only worsen if we fail to act.” 

“Today, too many of our national parks are in bad shape. American families spending their vacations in our national parks are often shocked to find that so many of the roads, picnic areas, trails, campgrounds and visitor centers are run down or even closed,” said Senator Alexander. “The Restore Our Parks Act would be the biggest help to the National Park Service in 50 years – it would cut in half the maintenance backlog at our national parks and help restore our 418 national parks so Americans can enjoy them. The legislation is supported by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, the Trump Administration and more than 100 conservation groups. When an idea this good – fixing our national parks for future generations – gets this much bipartisan support, it’s going to happen sooner or later. It is my hope we pass the legislation as soon as this year.”

“For more than 100 years, Acadia National Park has served as a popular tourist destination in Maine, showcasing the beauty of Maine’s coastline,” said Senator Collins.  “In order to accommodate the millions of visitors to Acadia and other cherished national parks, we must ensure the National Park Service has the resources it needs to fund upgrades, repairs and other maintenance projects.  By establishing a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund, this bipartisan bill would help address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service, ensuring that current and future generations are able to access our nation’s natural treasures.”

“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.”

“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. 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,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association.

“In 2018, our National Parks contributed $35.8 billion in total economic output and supported 306,000 American jobs. National Parks are a huge attraction for visitors across the country and around the world, which makes investment in the maintenance of our national parks not just an environmental necessity but also an economic priority. U.S. Travel applauds Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for reintroducing the Restore Our Parks Act, which will invest in national park infrastructure and facilities and shrink the nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance facing our parks,” said Tori Barnes, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, U.S. Travel Association.

“The nearly $12 billion National Park System deferred maintenance backlog jeopardizes some of our nation’s most iconic historic resources and cultural artifacts. By creating a reliable federal funding source to reduce the backlog, this legislation will enable the National Park Service and other federal agencies to save the historic structures, landscapes, and necessary infrastructure that enable the public to safely enjoy the places that reflect our nation’s history. We commend Reps. Bishop and Kilmer and Sens. Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for their leadership in creating a bipartisan path for Congress to secure the future of important historic and cultural resources now at risk,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, vice president for government relations and policy for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

In September, Senator King joined Acting Director of the National Park Service, Dan Smith, on a tour of Acadia National Park to assess the park’s critical maintenance needs that would be funded if Congress passed the Restore Our Parks Act. This legislation would have a positive impact on Acadia specifically, which has a maintenance backlog of approximately $60 million, and the surrounding communities like Bar Harbor.

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