“These funds brought hope and once again showed where the American people want Congress to invest. Congress must build on this momentum and extend this funding to fix more national parks.” - Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO
Washington, DC – Two years ago today, we celebrated a historic moment for our national parks with the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the largest investment made in our national parks and public lands in more than 50 years. This crucial funding – up to $6.65 billion over five years – is fixing our national parks’ crumbling roads, decaying buildings, outdated water systems and many more repair needs. For decades, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and hundreds of thousands of park supporters urged lawmakers to fix our national parks, and through this funding, our efforts are paying off huge.
This bill has funded more than 220 repair projects across the National Park System like fixing crumbling trails at Mammoth Cave National Park and replacing a failing water system at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, while also contributing $3.8 billion in economic output and creating more than 36,000 jobs. And it’s not just national parks. This bill provides full funding – $900 million per year – for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to conserve more land in and around our national parks and to support recreational facilities in communities across the nation, increasing access to outdoor spaces for all.
GAOA will continue to address repair projects in our parks for a few more years, but the current funding won’t be able to repair every broken bathroom, crumbling trail or outdated visitor center. Years of underfunding have taken a toll on our national parks, as the backlog of repair needs has now reached nearly $22 billion. And on top this, parks continue to deal with unimaginable damage related to climate change disasters like the recent flooding at Yellowstone, wildfires at Yosemite, homes swallowed by the sea at Cape Hatteras, and historic droughts at Lake Mead and Glen Canyon. Through GAOA we’ve made big strides to address our parks’ deferred maintenance problems, but it’s clear that our parks need more support. Therefore, NPCA is calling on Congress to extend GAOA funding for an additional five years to fix more parks.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):
“Our national parks continue to unite us, helping bridge political divides just like they did two years ago with the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. We worked tirelessly with our congressional champions and many partners and communities across the country, to pass this law to make our prized public lands and waters a priority – and together, our perseverance paid off.
“The successes in securing this funding cannot be overstated, as we’ve seen hundreds of park repair projects break ground from Acadia to Yosemite, thousands of jobs created and millions of dollars pumped back into local economies. Its profound impact will be felt and seen by all who visit and live near our national parks for years to come.”
“This funding could not have come at a better time, as years of underfunding, coupled with too few rangers, record-setting visitation and the climate crisis causing disastrous flooding, wildfires and droughts are pushing our parks to a breaking point. While amazing progress has been made, park maintenance needs continue to mount, and just like a leaky roof left untreated, these repairs will only get worse and more costly to fix over time. For the safety of park staff and the millions of people that visit and live nearby parks, and the future of the resources they protect and local economies they support, we can’t afford to wait another 50 years to get all of our national parks fixed.
“These funds brought hope and once again showed where the American people want Congress to invest. Congress must build on this momentum and extend this funding to fix more national parks.”
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 more than 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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