Members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee have approved by a 15 to 5 vote a measure designed to provide funding for a growing list of National Park Service facility and maintenance needs.
The Restore Our Parks Act will create what is being called a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund designed to pay for what is estimated to be nearly $12 billion in park facility project work.
The legislation, sponsored by a bi-partisan group of more than forty Senators, would apply 50 percent of all payments for energy development to the backlog work over a period of five years.
“It is a burden we are not addressing, “said Montana Senator Steve Daines of the growing backlog. “We can’t continue to punt on taking care of the deferred maintenance on our national parks.”
An earlier version of the legislation has been approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources on a 36 to 2 vote.
The deferred maintenance within the country’s national park system includes everything from roads, bridges, tunnels, water systems, and campground structures in need of work.
According to a report issued earlier this year by the National Park Service, deferred maintenance needs increased by about $313 million in just the last calendar year alone.
In Arizona the backlog price tag is nearly $532 million. Colorado currently has more than $238 million in needs, while the backlog in New Mexico is just over $123 million.
The Restore Our Parks Act is now being reviewed by the full Senate.
By Garry Boulard
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