Congress Begins Consideration of NPS Maintenance Legislation

Congress Begins Consideration of NPS Maintenance Legislation

Legislation that would provide new funding for the backlog of maintenance on National Park Service lands was introduced in the House and Senate on March 7. The bills are led by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Angus King (I-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO.) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR)

“Infrastructure is an investment, not merely an expense. And every dollar we put in to rebuilding our parks, will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality. Since the early days of my confirmation, I’ve been talking with members of the House and Senate about how we can use energy revenue to rebuild and revitalize our parks and communities,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a statement.​ “Infrastructure is also about access for all Americans. Not all visitors to our parks​ ​have the​ ​ability to hike with a 30-pound pack and camp in the wilderness miles away from utilities. ​ ​In order for families with young kids​, ​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 bill is the largest investment in National Parks in our nation’s history. 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.”

The National Park Restoration Act (H.R. 5210 and S. 2509) directs up to $18 billion from revenues generated through energy production on federal lands and waters into a new National Park Restoration Fund. The fund only receives revenues that are not already allocated to other programs including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Reclamation Fund, and others uses of the onshore and offshore revenues – those accounts would receive funding before the National Park Restoration Fund. The National Park Service estimates that it would cost more than $11.6 billion to reduce the backlog of repair and maintenance projects in the parks.

“Our bipartisan proposal will help restore and rebuild our national parks by helping to pay for the $11 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks. Here’s how it will do this: the legislation will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to provide mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog at our national parks. This is a well-established conservation principle: taking some of the money created by an environmental burden and using it for an environmental benefit,” Sen. Alexander said in a statement. “The significance of the proposal we are introducing today is that, to my knowledge, it has never happened before -- the president, his Office of Management and Budget and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are recommending we provide mandatory funding paid for by revenues from energy production on federal lands for the national park maintenance backlog. This is something that everyone who cares about our national parks –which documentary maker Ken Burns calls, ‘America’s best idea’ – should welcome and support.”

March 16, 2018