Congress created the National Park Service (NPS) in 1916 and tasked it with caring for our nation’s treasured parks. As our National Park System begins its second century, it should be a showcase of smart technology, energy and cost efficiencies, and best practices in visitor and facility management. Instead, the NPS lacks the resources it needs to carry out its mission on behalf of the American people.
The NPS manages over 400 sites of significant natural and historic value across all 50 states and the U.S. territories. However, because of inconsistent annual funding as well as aging infrastructure at many parks, it has difficulty keeping pace with necessary repairs and currently has a maintenance backlog estimated at $11.6 billion. More than two-thirds of that total consists of priority needs, such as deteriorating historic buildings and employee housing; failing water and electrical systems; eroding trails; and crumbling roads.
The repair backlog degrades parks’ natural and cultural resources, diminishes the visitor experience, and harms the economies of nearby communities. So nearly 3,000 local and national groups—businesses and chambers of commerce; cities and counties; veteran organizations; unions, builders, and contractor associations; and the travel, tourism, and recreation industries—have urged policymakers to take action to fix our parks.