Press Release Jul 1, 2021

Momentum Builds as House Passes Critical Funding for National Park Roads, Bridges and Transportation Systems

House bill prioritizes clean water, wildlife protection and resilient infrastructure as parks and communities combat a changing climate

Washington, DC – Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, by a vote of 221-201, that includes nearly $2 billion in dedicated funding to repair national park roads, bridges and transportation systems. The INVEST in America Act would authorize federal highway, transit, and rail programs with bold efforts to reduce harmful air pollution. It also supports strengthening our nation’s transportation infrastructure, including in our national parks, to be more resilient to climate change. Additionally, this bill outlines significant investments in our nation’s water infrastructure and invests in common-sense solutions that would reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, protecting motorists and ensuring long-term health of national park wildlife.

The National Park System is second only to the Department of Defense in the amount of federal infrastructure it manages, including 10,000 miles of publicly accessible roads and 1,440 bridges. Unfortunately, nearly 40 percent of park roads are in poor condition and in need of repair, all while many parks are also experiencing record visitation. By addressing our parks’ transportation needs, we can ensure that visitors have the park experiences they expect and deserve.

The package also includes significant investments in critical water infrastructure. National parks need healthy water. From the Channel Islands to Cape Hatteras and beyond, our parks provide safe recreation while protecting critical wildlife habitat. However, like our roadways, our nation’s water infrastructure systems have fallen into significant disrepair, failing to protect public health and aquatic park ecosystems. This bill would invest more than $50 billion over five years for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure in addition to over $100 billion over 10 years for drinking water infrastructure, prioritizing climate resilient infrastructure solutions and yielding cleaner, safe water for our parks and gateway communities.

Key park transportation provisions included in the INVEST in America Act:

  • Guarantees an increase in annual funding to the Park Service – an additional $580 million over the span of the five-year bill – through the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which provides funds to improve roads, bridges, transit and other transportation infrastructure in parks.
  • Dedicates $200 million a year for federal land management agencies to address large repair projects, such as reconstruction of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone and repair of the Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park.
  • Increases the Federal Lands Access Program by $350 million over five years, which provides funding to states and other local entities to provide access for park visitors to national parks and other federal lands.
  • Provides significant investments to reduce carbon pollution and advance mitigation and resiliency measures in our parks to combat the changing climate.
  • Establishes a $400 million wildlife crossing grant program to support efforts by federal agencies, tribes and states to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, protect motorists and improve habitat connectivity.
  • Funds updated research into the causes and consequences of wildlife-vehicle collisions including expanded studies and reports to Congress.

Key water infrastructure provisions included in the INVEST in America Act:

  • Reauthorizes the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, quadrupling current funding levels to $8 billion annually, which would begin to address aging and failing wastewater and stormwater infrastructure nationwide that contributes to poor water quality threatening water resources in downstream national parks.

  • Increases funding for the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse grant program, investing $2 billion over five years to reduce pollution threatening park waters at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, St. Croix National Scenic River and other parks around the country.

  • Boosts State Management Assistance grants, providing $2.5 billion over five years to support state agencies in their implementation of Clean Water Act protections essential to public health, recreation and the protection of park water resources.

  • Invests more than $100 billion in drinking water infrastructure over 10 years, helping to ensure our park communities have access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water.

Statement by Emily Douce, Director of Operations and Park Funding for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“As record-setting numbers of visitors explore our national parks this summer, they will unfortunately have to navigate crumbling roadways and bridges on their way to experiencing towering redwoods and spectacular waterfalls. Today’s House vote brings us one step closer to providing urgently needed funding for our national parks as many sites across the country prepare for an influx of visitors, while also trying to keep roadways, bridges and transit systems accessible and operational in the face of a changing climate. Our parks need our support if they are to continue meeting this increased demand and provide inspirational visitor experiences now, and for years to come.

“Every year, millions of visitors rely on parks roads and transportation systems to visit and enjoy parks, but many of them are in poor condition and in need of repair, from crumbling roads on the Blue Ridge Parkway to deteriorating bridges at Great Smoky Mountains. National Park waters that provide safe recreation and protect wildlife habitat are also in jeopardy as nearly two-thirds of national parks that safeguard water resources suffer from water quality impairments. The investments included in this legislation would go beyond simply rebuilding existing park roads, bridges and water systems and ensure a focus on resilient infrastructure that can withstand intensifying climate change impacts and make our parks air, water, and wildlife stronger than ever before.

“Congress made great strides last year passing legislation that is fixing our parks’ decaying buildings and outdated visitor centers, but that’s only half of the problem. Congress must work together to swiftly pass final legislation that tackles the infrastructure challenges parks and communities continue to face before we lose the resources that make these places so special.”

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About The 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 nearly 1.6 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.

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