Capito Announces Additional Support for Legislation to Help Preserve National Parks
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—along with a bipartisan, bicameral group of senators—announced support from outdoor and recreation organizations for legislation they introduced on March 7, the National Park Restoration Act. The legislation will help restore and rebuild our national parks by helping to pay for the $11 billion national parks maintenance backlog—which includes buildings, campgrounds, trails, and water systems.
Pew Charitable Trusts: “Introduction of another park maintenance bill shows Congress is listening to the thousands of voices calling on them to #FixOurParks. Thanks to Representatives Mike Simpson and Kurt Schrader and Senators Alexander, King and Heinrich.”
Outdoor Industry Association: “OIA applauds the continued efforts to solve the National Park Service backlog issue. As we know, and the support for bills like National Park Restoration Act shows, the health and vitality of America’s public lands system is a bipartisan issue that unites us. We look forward to progress on the issue and appreciate the Senate and House Bill Sponsors’ attention to this critical infrastructure issue that supports the growing $887 billion outdoor recreation economy.”
Outdoor Recreation Roundtable: “Thank you for your leadership in developing the National Park Restoration Act, an important effort to overcome the more than $11 billion backlog in maintenance in our national parks. Roads, buildings, trails, campgrounds, water systems and more suffer from this accumulated problem – and visitor safety and enjoyment of our parks natural and historic resources are very real concerns. Without a new and extraordinary effort, the backlog cannot be eliminated. The backlog is nearly four times the annual appropriations of the National Park Service. While we do believe that steps can and should be taken to avoid further growth in this backlog, the national parks cannot return to sound condition without efforts like you are proposing.”
The Corps Network: “The Corps Network is appreciative of this timely effort to help address the National Park Service maintenance backlog and applaud introduction of the bicameral National Park Restoration Act. Our Corps across the country help support parks, and other public lands maintenance needs, in order to maintain and expand access to recreation opportunities and productive fish and wildlife habitat. We welcome this legislation in contributing to the ongoing conversation of developing new solutions to address this important issue. Americans expect and deserve their public lands to be in a good condition when they visit, and we look forward to working with the sponsors, and other supporters of our parks and public lands, in moving forward a widely-supported solution to this problem.”
Vista Outdoor: “National Parks are the backbone of the federal recreation system. For far too long, these treasures have not received the care and attention worthy of America’s ‘best idea.’ …this bipartisan legislation to address the multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog is the type of action and leadership needed for the Parks to thrive for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Led by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Senator Capito and other co-sponsors have been working with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the legislation, which will help restore and rebuild the country’s national parks for the next generation of visitors. Senator Capito participated in a press conference with the secretary last month to announce introduction of the bill.
The National Park Restoration Act:
- Creates the National Park Restoration Fund to provide mandatory funding for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs that support critical infrastructure and visitor services at our national parks.
- Provides mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog on top of annual appropriations for operations and construction at the National Park Service.
- The fund receives 50 percent of onshore and offshore revenues from energy production on federal lands over expected amounts that are not already allocated to other purposes.
- Protects payments to states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Reclamation Fund, and all other existing uses of onshore and offshore revenues. These existing uses will receive all of their funding before the National Park Restoration Fund receives any funding.
The backlog of infrastructure projects at our national parks can limit access and impair visitor experiences and recreation opportunities, and without additional funding, the backlog could continue to grow. The National Park Service (NPS) maintenance backlog is nearly four times what NPS receives in annual appropriations. In FY2017 the NPS’ deferred maintenance needs were $11.6 billion. That same fiscal year, NPS received $2.9 million in annual appropriations.
President Trump and Secretary Zinke have made addressing the growing maintenance backlog a top priority.
Other original co-sponsors include U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
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