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Growing Momentum for a Legislative Solution to $11.6 Billion in National Park Backlog

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 15, 2019 -

Today, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) along with U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) held a bipartisan press conference on growing support for H.R. 1225 Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. Almost a quarter of all House members,  92 members of both parties, joined as original cosponsors of the bill and there are now over 200 sponsors support the bill.       

Watch Video HERE

Our National Parks are in desperate need of repair with a 12 billion dollar maintenance backlog. Fixing the deferred maintenance in our National Park System is basic good governance – if we’re going to own parks we ought to pay for them. Fortunately, both sides of the aisle have come together on a solution. This bipartisan bill will put us on the path to improving our parks for future generations.”  Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah)

“I grew up with Olympic National Park in my backyard and gained an appreciation for how much our national parks do to captivate visitors and create jobs. But many of our most iconic landscapes and historical buildings are falling into disrepair. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort that will be an economic boost to rural communities and keep our parks accessible for future generations.”– U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D- Wash.)

“For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country. My visits to various national parks in Ohio have made it clear that we must pass this legislation to ensure that they have sufficient resources to maintain our national parks. I will continue to work with my bipartisan colleagues in the House and Senate to pass this bill so we can preserve these American treasures for generations to come.”– U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R- Ohio)

“Protecting and preserving our national parks isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s about protecting important pieces of our American story. With the deferred maintenance backlog now at nearly $12 billion dollars, more than half of all Park Service assets are now in critical need of repairs. In Virginia alone, that figure stands at $1.1 billion and it will only increase the longer Congress waits to take action. That’s why I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass the Restore Our Parks Act, so we can provide significant investments to protect our nation’s historic sites.”– U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-Va.)

“Today, I stood with colleagues from both parties and both Houses 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. 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.” – U.S. Senator Angus King (I- Maine)

“As Chairman of the National Parks Subcommittee, it has been a top priority to finally address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service. Our national parks are a part of our Montana way of life and a major driver of our booming outdoor economy. Our bipartisan bill should move forward as soon as possible so future generations can continue to enjoy the wonders of the west.” – U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R- Mont.)

“Any infrastructure package taken up by Congress this year must include our public lands maintenance backlog. Our national parks, forests, and refuges should be safe and accessible to the millions of visitors who want to explore them. In New Mexico, we know this problem first-hand at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, where the main passenger elevators remain broken and unavailable to the public. Critical repairs like this at our parks across the nation are long overdue.” – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D- N.M.)

 “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. This is especially important to Tennessee, because our state is home to one of America’s greatest treasures – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the country and welcomed a record-setting 11.4 million visitors in 2018. 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, and it is my hope we pass the legislation as soon as this year.” – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

“I’m pleased that Congress is working in a bipartisan fashion to address the more than $11 billion in backlogged park maintenance. I believe that all Americans should be able to enjoy the beauty of our National Parks and the recreational opportunities they provide, and to do so safely for generations to come.”U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)



Other supporting voices:


“The bipartisan Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act is a real step forward in addressing critical repair needs in our public lands,” said Marcia Argust, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ project to restore America’s parks. “Investment in these places keeps them accessible and creates jobs.” 
– Marcia Argust, director of Restore America’s Parks for The Pew Charitable Trusts


“The nearly $12 billion National Park System deferred maintenance backlog jeopardizes some of our nation’s most iconic historic resources and cultural artifacts. As Congress considers proposals to address the nation’s infrastructure needs, the National Park Service deserves to be one of those investments. The bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act and Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would create a reliable federal funding source to reduce the backlog and 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 Sens. Portman, Warner, Alexander and King and Reps. Bishop and Kilmer for their leadership in creating a bipartisan path for Congress to secure the future of important historic and cultural resources now at risk.”
– Pam Bowman, director of public lands policy for the National Trust for Historic Preservation


“Landscape architects helped create the first national parks and have been stewards of these natural treasures ever since. Infrastructure in our national parks and public lands is in desperate need of attention, and the Restore our Parks and Restore our Parks and Public Lands Acts are a huge step toward addressing those maintenance needs in a sustainable, resilient way. ASLA applauds these bipartisan bills in the hope that working together, we can preserve our precious natural environments for generations to come.”
– Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects


“During Infrastructure Week, American Hiking Society applauds Congress for taking action to address the massive maintenance backlog on our public lands. Closed trails, out of service restrooms, campgrounds in poor condition, and impassable roads are just of the a few barriers awaiting visitors seeking to access trails. The Restore Our Parks and Restore Our Parks and Public Land Acts are a much needed first step to ensuring to our public lands are safe and accessible.”
– Kate Van Waes, executive director, American Hiking Society


“At a time when the $50 billion American-made RV industry has grown to record levels, RV overnight stays at National Park Service campgrounds have declined from 4.5 million in the 1980s to 2.5 million in 2018.  Outdated Eisenhower-era federal campground infrastructure, crumbling roads and bridges, and deferred maintenance needs limit access to outdoor recreation opportunities and negatively impacts the RV camping experience. It is more important now than ever to invest in America's booming outdoor recreation economy and this bipartisan legislation offers a practical solution to restoring these iconic public places to the standards the American people deserve.” 
Frank Hugelmeyer, president, RV Industry Association


“In Genesis we are commanded to be caretakers of God’s creation. However, our stewardship of the most majestic parts of God’s creation, our national parks, is dismal. Currently, our national treasurers need almost $12 billion in deferred maintenance. From roads and trails to restrooms and water mains, these great displays of God’s artistry are falling apart. We applaud the leaders in Congress who are dedicated to protecting these special places and are proud to stand beside them today as we rally together for the funding to restore grandeur to these God given wonders. A special thank you to Senators Portman (R-OH), Warner (D-VA), Alexander (R-TN), and King (ME-I) for leading the Restore our Parks Act (S. 500) in the United State Senate and Representatives Bishop (R-UT) and Kilmer (D-WA) for championing the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 1225) in the House of Representatives. The Evangelical Environmental Network has collected over 250,000 comments from pro-life Christians who have called on our elected leaders to protect our parks and federal lands and to ensure funding so that every American can enjoy the beauty of God's creation. We are thankful for the leadership demonstrated by the members we stand with today. We want every American to enjoy the beauty of God's creation and experience the grandeur of nature. For many, our national parks provide profound spiritual experiences. For Christians like us, parks remind us of our Creator. As the Bible says:

‘How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all’; and ‘In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him’; and ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof.’” (Psalms 104:24, 95:4 and 24:1).”
The Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network


“National park facilities are crumbling in disrepair and desperately need the support of Congress. We applaud the bipartisan park champions for pursuing this much needed investment in our parks. The National Park Service is responsible for more than 75,000 structures, second only to the Department of Defense in the amount of infrastructure it maintains. Park staff do the best they can with the money they are given, but aging park visitor centers, roads and sewer systems across the park system reflect the lack of investment from the federal government. Passage of this bipartisan legislation would reprioritize our national parks, ensure that their historic and natural resources are well protected, and support visitors and the countless local economies that benefit from them.”
Theresa Pierno, president and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association


“Our national parks attract hundreds of millions of visitors each year because of their iconic majesty and the draw of experiencing the outdoors. These national treasures therefore require proper maintenance and while the National Park Service does a fantastic job with the budget they have – it is not enough to keep up with the needs of our national parks. OIA recently met with over 100 members about this issue and in support of both the Restore Our Parks Act and the Restore Our Parks and Lands Act. We are thankful for the leadership of Senators Portman (R-OH), Warner (D-VA), Alexander (R-TN), and King (ME-I) and Representatives Bishop (R-UT) and Kilmer (D-WA) for championing them. Let’s get these bills passed as soon as possible in order to repair the roads, visitor centers, water systems and recreational infrastructure that make our parks international attractions and an economic boon to the gateway communities surrounding these public lands.”
Patricia Rojas-Ungar, vice president of government affairs for Outdoor Industry Association


“Less than a mile from the steps of Congress you can see the impact of deferred maintenance on our National Parks.  America’s front yard, the National Mall, has parts that are suffering from aging infrastructure, specifically the 120 year old seawall of the tidal basin which experiences daily flooding which negatively impacts our iconic cherry trees. Additionally, growing public visitation and accessibility challenges threaten the sustainability and visitor enjoyment of this national treasure.”
Catherine Townsend, president and CEO, Trust for the National Mall

“Today PLA joins with many conservation leaders on Capitol Hill to ask Congress to invest in the infrastructure of America’s national parks and public lands. PLA is incredibly grateful for the outstanding leadership of House and Senate champions in authoring H.R. 1225, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, and S.500, the Restore Our Parks Act. We urge Congress to send a bill to the President’s desk that takes a huge bite out of the deferred maintenance backlogs of our public lands and offers clear opportunities to leverage private sector investment.”
Public Lands Alliance


The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act
would address the deferred maintenance backlog by utilizing federal energy development revenue not otherwise allocated for other purposes. It also protects payments to states, GOMESA, LWCF, Reclamation Fund, and all other existing uses of onshore and offshore revenues.

Link to H.R. 1225 Bill Text HERE

Contact: Committee Press Office

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