WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—along with a bipartisan group of senators—today introduced the National Park Restoration Act, legislation that will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to help pay for the over $11 billion maintenance backlog at national parks .
Led by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senators and have been working with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the legislation, which will help restore and rebuild roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails, and water systems in the country’s national parks for the next generation of visitors. Senator Capito participated in a press conference with the secretary this morning to announce introduction of the bill.
“West Virginia is full of so much natural beauty, and it’s important that we continue to care for and preserve the incredible natural resources and attractions across the state. Unfortunately, West Virginia’s national parks have $52 million worth of backlogged maintenance, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts,” Senator Capito said. “This bill will provide funding to help preserve the culture and history of parks like Harpers Ferry and the New River Gorge National River, and it will help ensure West Virginians and visitors from across the country can enjoy them for generations to come. I appreciate President Trump and Secretary Zinke making this issue a priority and will continue working with the administration, Senator Alexander, and our colleagues resolve the national parks backlog. This bill is the first step in doing that.”
“Our National Parks have been a source of pride for more than a century, however this has come at a cost and today the Park Service Deferred Maintenance backlog is more than $10 billion dollars, including $64 million in West Virginia,” Senator Manchin said. “This impacts visitor services at some of the most spectacular places in our state. I look forward to working with the Administration, Senator Alexander, and all of the cosponsors to pass this bipartisan bill so our grandchildren can enjoy these treasured places for another one hundred years.”
“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,” Secretary Zinke said.? “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:
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.
Other original co-sponsors include Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
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