National Parks Maintenance Backlog Grows

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 20, 2004
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


National Parks Maintenance Backlog Grows

Washington, D.C. - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonpartisan park watchdog, today released a new report, The Burgeoning Backlog drawing attention to the growing backlog of deferred maintenance in America’s national parks, a situation that directly affects the experiences of visitors. The parks group called on Congress and the administration to increase annual funding for the parks and pass a transportation bill that could go a long way toward reducing the backlog.

“A leaky roof can quickly destroy a historic building,” said NPCA President Thomas C. Kiernan. “Unless Congress and the administration address the needs of the national parks, the backlog of park maintenance projects will continue to grow—undermining the presidential promise to “restore and renew” our parks and placing America’s heritage at risk.”

NPCA’s new ten-page report, The Burgeoning Backlog, calls attention to decades of insufficient funding in the national parks—a situation that has caused a growing backlog of deferred maintenance projects, now estimated by the General Accounting Office at $4 billion to $6.8 billion.

NPCA recommends that Congress and the administration pass the pending transportation bill, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, as one means of addressing the backlog. Currently, the Senate version of the legislation allocates more than $300 million a year for the national parks, of which $270 million annually would be available for repairing and rebuilding park roads and bridges for the next six years.

In 2000, President Bush pledged to eliminate the backlog of park maintenance projects and “restore and renew” America’s national parks. Regrettably, NPCA’s report says that Congress and the administration have made little progress toward meeting this pledge, providing a total of only $662 million in new funding over the past four years.

NPCA asserts that the backlog of deferred maintenance in the national parks is perpetuated by insufficient operating funds—a system-wide shortfall that exceeds $600 million annually. In parks nationwide, roads, bridges, and historic structures are crumbling, visitor centers are outdated and unsafe, and campgrounds and trails are poorly maintained because park managers do not have the staff or funds to address day-to-day maintenance.

Earlier this month, 84 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 20 U.S. Senators signed bipartisan letters to their appropriations committees seeking an additional $240 million for national park operations in the fiscal year 2005 budget.

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