May 15, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) – Ranking Member of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee – joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to emphasize the importance of reducing the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS). During the event, King and his colleagues urged Congress to pass the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan bill led by Senators King, Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to fund and address the backlog expediently.
“Today, I stood with colleagues from both parties and both Chambers of Congress to fight for a goal that we all share: protecting America’s national parks. From Acadia to Zion, the National Park Service reflects the diverse experiences and limitless potential of the nation that has sworn to protect these public lands,” said Senator King. “The NPS helps Americans of all backgrounds connect to their world, and creates countless memories that will last a lifetime. We have an immense privilege and responsibility to protect our national parks – so let’s act accordingly, and take steps to address the backlog that threatens these American treasures.”
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 witnesses at a Subcommittee on National Parks hearing last July and has the support of key Administration officials, including the Interior Secretary. In addition, in September 2018 Senator King joined Acting NPS Director Dan Smith on a tour of Acadia National Park to assess the park’s critical maintenance need; the backlog at Acadia alone is estimated to be approximately $60 million.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, Senator King is known within Congress as a champion of efforts to preserve, protect, and promote America’s national parks and public lands. In addition to his lead sponsorship of the Restore Our Parks Act, Senator King has long advocated in favor of permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and clarification of Acadia National Park’s boundary line – both signed into law as part of the public lands package in early March.