Press Release May 3, 2018

Congressman Rutherford, National Park Advocates Call on Congress to Fund Restoration Efforts at National Parks in Florida

National park advocates assess repair needs at Kingsley Plantation in Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Congressman John Rutherford (R-4-FL), representatives of Florida’s congressional delegation, national park advocates and local business leaders gathered today to tour the repair needs at Kingsley Plantation in Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, and call on Congress to provide dedicated funding for national park repairs.

The 11 National Park Service (NPS) sites in Florida have more than $262 million in needed repairs, including $3.8 million at Timucuan. Nationwide, the backlog of repairs for NPS sites is estimated at $11.6 billion.

“National Parks celebrate and commemorate our most treasured natural landscapes, our shared historic and cultural American history, and the stories these places hold for all to learn from and enjoy,” said John Adornato, deputy vice president for regional operations at National Parks Conservation Association. “There is no substitute for the lessons learned from rangers at our parks today – including contemplating our profound and sometimes painful history. Lack of funding for repairs at Timucuan threatens the ability to preserve and interpret the sites’ complex history.”

The Kingsley Plantation at Timucuan tells the story of early 19th century living, where the Kingsley family cultivated cotton, sugar cane and corn using the forced labor of approximately 60 slaves. A number of historic structures — including the Plantation House, Kitchen House, and cabins of enslaved peoples — all have features in disrepair. Timucuan also contains 6,000 years of human history and thousands of acres of woods, water, and salt marsh.

“Our national parks help educate Americans about our past so we can learn from it and recognize its lessons and its relevance today,” said Barbara Goodman, Board Director for Timucuan Parks Foundation. “Timucuan is one such place, with important pieces of our history we stand to lose if we continue to prolong desperately needed repairs.”

More than 10 million people visited the 11 National Park Service sites in Florida during 2017, supporting more than $613 million in economic benefits to their surrounding communities. Investing in and fixing national parks helps to generate economic activity and job growth. In fact, an analysis commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts and conducted by the Cadmus Group indicates that fully addressing deferred maintenance could create or support 2,467 jobs in Florida and more than 110,000 jobs nationwide.

Solutions exist for addressing our park’s repair needs. Congressman Rutherford is part of a bipartisan group in Congress, including 10 members representing Florida who have cosponsored the National Park Service Legacy Act (H.R. 2584/S.751), to provide the National Park Service reliable annual funding to address park maintenance needs at sites across the country.

“Florida’s national parks preserve an irreplaceable part of our shared history and culture for future generations,” said Congressman John Rutherford. “Throughout our state and our country, parks like the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve have fallen into disrepair and it is our responsibility as a nation to care for these essential facets of the American experience. That is why I joined my colleagues in Congress to cosponsor the National Park Service Legacy Act, which would help reduce the ever-increasing deferred maintenance costs of our national parks through innovative revenue streams to protect these historic landmarks for generations to come.”

Together, park advocates call on elected officials in Washington to join the bipartisan call to provide dedicated annual funding to fix our national park sites that protect our natural and cultural history. Following the park tour today, park advocates will hold a panel discussion and luncheon with local Jacksonville leaders on the benefits of Congress investing more in our parks.

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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.