September 20, 2018
BAR HARBOR, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, 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. The visit highlights the need for Congress to pass the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator King along with Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would reduce the $12 billion maintenance backlog facing National Parks around the country. This legislation would have a positive impact on Acadia, which has a maintenance backlog of approximately $60 million, and the surrounding communities. a companion bill, the Restore our Parks and Public Lands Act, has been introduced in the House.
“Mary and I have gone with our kids to almost two dozen national parks across the country, but Acadia will forever hold a special place in our hearts,” said Senator King. “Acadia, like all of our treasured national parks, represents a responsibility that is passed from generation to generation: our responsibility to leave behind a better world for those who come next. Unfortunately, we’ve fallen behind on that commitment, putting off $12 billion of important maintenance projects required to fulfill the promise of these parks. Our bipartisan bill will address this backlog, and ensure that our children and grandchildren can experience Cadillac Mountain sunrises for years to come.”
Senator King and Acting Director Smith were led through the park by Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider. Also joining the tour were U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine); Town Manager of Bar Harbor, Cornell Knight; President and CEO of Friends of Acadia, David MacDonald; Maine State Senator, Brian Langley (R-Ellsworth); Maine State Representative, Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor); Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Martha Searchfield; as well as other staff members from Acadia National Park and the park’s non-profit partner, Friends of Acadia.
More specifically, 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 consensus legislation has been praised by witnesses at a Subcommittee on National Parks hearing in July, and is supported 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, among others. In addition to Senators King, Portman, Warner, and Alexander, the legislation is supported by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Steve Daines (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).
Senator King is an steadfast 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.