Infrastructure proposal includes investments in land acquisition, historic preservation
WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats are proposing to nearly halve the National Park Service’s $11.6 billion repair backlog, according to a national infrastructure investment blueprint released by lawmakers today.
The blueprint calls for a $5 billion investment in repairs at national park sites. Needed repairs range from unmaintained trails to crumbling roads to visitor centers built over 50 years ago in desperate need of updating. These overdue repairs threaten the ability of the Park Service to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors while threatening the long-term preservation of park’s historic and natural resources.
The blueprint also calls for major investments in other programs essential to protecting the nation’s natural, cultural, and historic legacy, including $4 billion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $500 million for historic preservation.
The blueprint comes as the Trump Administration is moving forward several controversial proposals, from increases to visitor fees to calling for cuts to the National Park Service’s budget. The administration’s budget proposal allocates up to $18 billion to fund public lands infrastructure through increased federal energy leasing and development activity revenue, some of which may include drilling or extraction in sensitive areas, potentially damaging park resources. Meanwhile, the administration’s broader infrastructure proposal calls for a new investment in park repairs, but it comes at the expense of significant rollbacks of environmental protections like the National Environmental Policy Act.
Today’s blueprint offers a clear path forward, without the damaging consequences of the Trump proposals.
Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association:
“Today’s Senate blueprint demonstrates we can fix our parks without compromising what makes them great. It’s proof that taking care of America’s parks doesn’t have to mean rolling back environmental protections or encouraging damaging drilling on public lands.
“The Park Service’s $11.6 billion repair backlog is a critical problem that demands attention, but the administration’s proposals come at too great a cost by undermining vital environmental laws and potentially harming other public lands. By contrast, this blueprint would make substantive investment one of our parks’ greatest challenges, with none of those funds coming at the expense of our public lands and waters.
“If enacted, this will leave our parks stronger and better prepared to greet the millions of visitors that come every year. If the administration is serious about fixing our parks, it should start by supporting and urging Congress to enact proposals like the blueprint.”
About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.