The Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks initiative seeks to raise awareness about the National Park System’s deferred maintenance backlog, implement policy reforms, secure dedicated annual funding for infrastructure repairs, and advance public-private strategies to ensure that the NPS is equipped for success.
The national parks unite the nation’s grand natural resources and its history, telling the story of remarkable people and events through places as unique and diverse as Yosemite, Native American pueblos, Gettysburg National Military Park, and the Statue of Liberty. From the high alpine tundra to rugged coasts, from ancient redwood forests to arid deserts, the parks play a critical role in safeguarding biodiversity, protecting watersheds, and providing vital habitat for wildlife.
Unfortunately, 100 years after its creation, the National Park System is showing its age. Inconsistent public funding has resulted in a deferred maintenance backlog that is estimated to be about $12 billion, approximately half of which is transportation-related. The size and maturation of NPS infrastructure—including some 10,000 miles of roads—and the large number of historic structures create an enormous challenge.
The National Park System is one of this country’s best ideas, and Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our parks can continue to tell the nation’s story. Policymakers must provide adequate funding to keep the parks open and accessible, maintain buildings and infrastructure in safe and up-to-code condition, and protect historic buildings and cultural sites.