Press Release Mar 31, 2015

GROW AMERICA Fails Our National Parks

NPCA disappointed in Obama Administration's recent GROW AMERICA proposal.

WASHINGTON – The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is extremely disappointed that the Obama Administration’s most recent GROW AMERICA proposal once again eliminates the guarantee that the National Park Service (NPS) will receive $240 million per year to address billions of dollars in crucial repairs to national park roads and infrastructure.

Below is a statement by Laura Loomis, NPCA Deputy Vice President of Government Affairs:

“GROW AMERICA fails our national parks by eliminating historically guaranteed funding levels for park transportation projects and ignoring $11.49 billion in backlogged transportation and maintenance needs that jeopardize public safety. It’s baffling that as our National Park System prepares for its centennial with an expected increase in visitors, including young children and their families, our parks remain rife with dangerous roads and deteriorating bridges. The only thing that this drastic and unwarranted elimination of guaranteed funding will do is ensure the maintenance backlog continues to grow as our parks enter their second century.”

BACKGROUND: The Obama Administration released its proposal to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs, titled GROW AMERICA. This plan removes guaranteed funding for transportation projects within national parks through the Federal Lands Transportation Program, putting NPS at risk of receiving less money than it currently receives annually. Transportation systems within the National Park System are largely reliant on federal funding and receive little support from state or local funding mechanisms, and therefore should be first in line for federal gas tax dollars.

Roads, bridges, and transit systems on our federal lands serve as main arteries to major cities as well as nearly one billion recreation and tourism visits annually. In fact, there were 292.8 million visits to national parks in 2014, breaking the previous record of 287.2 million visits set in 1987. Despite increasing use, funding levels for federal lands transportation programs have been largely unchanged for 20 years.

Not only does GROW AMERICA eliminate guaranteed funding for transportation systems within our national parks, this proposal insufficiently addresses over $6 billion in transportation-specific maintenance projects that contribute to NPS’s $11.49 billion total backlog of deferred maintenance.

Part of the more than $6 billion in transportation-specific projects are public safety improvements like addressing the “ structurally deficient” Memorial Bridge and “ dangerous drop-offs at the pavement edge” along roads in Yellowstone National Park. There are additional infrastructure mega-projects, many that seriously endanger park visitors.

###

About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.