Press Release Nov 5, 2021

Congress Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to Help Build Back and Strengthen National Parks and Communities

“This investment in America is also an investment in our 423 national parks." The Park Service will receive more than $1.7 billion, to support efforts including bridge and roadway repairs, modernizing transit systems and better protecting wildlife and motorists. 

WASHINGTON – Tonight, the United States House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, a $1.2 trillion package to significantly improve America’s infrastructure, including transportation and water systems.

The National Park Service will receive more than $1.7 billion from the funding package. Spread out over five years, the investments will improve roads and bridges, modernize transportation systems, support climate adaptations, and better protect wildlife and motorists, among other crucial projects. The Park Service manages more than 12,600 miles of roads, over 1,440 bridges and 127 transit systems. Nearly 40% of park roads need repair, including Blue Ridge Parkway and roadways within Mojave National Preserve, deteriorating bridges at Great Smoky Mountains and flood-damaged roads at Harpers Ferry.

This investment in America is also an investment in our 423 national parks – Theresa Pierno

Additional National Park and Public Lands Benefits from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 include:

  • $350 million to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and support enhanced connectivity to help animals adapt to the changing climate. Each year an estimated 1-2 million collisions with large species results in close to 30,000 human injuries and hundreds of fatalities. Beyond devastating, these accidents add up to $8 billion in costs to Americans.
  • $1.4 billion so visitors can better access our parks and other public lands, through the Federal Lands Access Program. Such transportation investments can also reduce emissions as well as congestion in some of our most visited parks.
  • $3.2 billion for aquatic ecosystem restoration projects and ecosystem restoration programs in the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Basin to restore and better protect the waterways and surrounding communities from intensifying climate change threats.
  • $355 million a year for large repair projects by federal land management agencies and Tribes. Park benefits could include reconstruction of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone and Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park.
  • $35 billion in wastewater, stormwater and drinking water infrastructure investments to help improve water quality across America, including within national park boundaries and park-adjacent communities.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association:

“Today, Congress demonstrated a common ground commitment to repairing America’s infrastructure, including in our national parks and surrounding communities. This major legislative victory supports communities as they recover from the ongoing pandemic, while also building back and strengthening park roads, bridges, transit, and water systems in the face of climate change.

“This investment in America is also an investment in our 423 national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains need bridge repairs and efforts to keep black bears and drivers safe along the popular Pigeon River Gorge roadway. In Denali, the climate crisis has created impassible landslides on the road that leads into the heart of the park, requiring innovative solutions with a multimillion-dollar price-tag. And investing in a new shuttle service to Pullman National Monument on Chicago’s Southside will connect people with parks and support local tourism.

“The National Parks Conservation Association commends Senators Carper and Capito and Representative DeFazio for supporting our public lands through this landmark investment in a way that helps curb climate pollution, prioritizes resilient infrastructure, and protects our wildlife and their homes.

“We must build upon today’s investment in America, by acting on the climate crisis that is wreaking havoc on our communities and our public lands. Through the upcoming reconciliation process, Congress must make crucial progress towards a carbon-free future by investing in climate resiliency and clean energy programs.”

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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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