Statement recognizes Washington’s parks as pillars of our region’s heritage, culture and economy
Seattle, WA — The Seattle City Council today passed a resolution by unanimous vote that calls for Congress to protect the cultural, educational, recreational, and economic benefits of what has been called “America’s best idea”— our national parks.
Fixing the national parks in Washington will help support an important economic engine for our state. National Parks Service (NPS) reports that during 2015, park visitors spent an estimated $470 million in local communities surrounding park sites, helping to support more than 6,300 jobs and providing the state with an economic boost of nearly $632 million.
“In celebration of the National Parks Service’s (NPS) 100th anniversary we’re joining communities around the nation in calling on Congress to secure dedicated funding for the gems of our lands,” said Seattle City Councilmember and chief sponsor Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), and Chair of the Parks Committee. “Dedicated federal support is the only way we can ensure our parks will thrive for the century to come.”
In light of a history of congressional underfunding, the resolution calls on members of Congress to create a reliable and predictable stream of resources to help the NPS address deferred maintenance at its more than 400 sites across the country. It’s estimated that the current backlog of overdue park repairs—for crumbling roads, rotting historic buildings, eroding trails, outdated public buildings, and safety hazards such as deteriorating water and electrical systems—totals $12 billion.
“Our national parks are our common ground, which deserves a common solution to more adequately fund them, by Congress and President Trump,” said Rob Smith, Northwest Regional Director of National Parks Conservation Association. “With a shared interest expressed by President Trump, Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke and members of Washington’s delegation of addressing our country’s infrastructure backlog, there is no better place to start than our national treasures.”
The 14 national parks and 42 natural and historic landmarks and monuments in Washington State account for more than $510 million of that growing backlog. Mount Rainier National Park faces $287 million in needed repairs, Olympic National Park has a $140 million price tag on its backlog and North Cascades National Park requires fixes totaling $24 million. These three parks and many other NPS sites are within a few hours of Seattle, and a significant draw to the region for tourists and residents alike. According to the NPS, the national parks in Washington had 7.6 million visits in 2015.
“The spectacular wilderness and recreation opportunities at the parks are significant reasons people flock to our region,” said David Blandford, Vice President of Communications at Visit Seattle. “Investing in their repair and maintenance will help keep the Pacific Northwest a prime place to travel and live.”
“This resolution demonstrates Seattle’s firm support for the foundational role national parks serve in preserving America’s cultural heritage,” concluded Juarez. “We need Congress to step up now, so future generations can experience these testaments to America’s natural splendor.”
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About National Parks Conservation Association: (NPCA) Since 1919, the nonpartisan NPCA has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.