National Park Service Turns to Partnerships to Tackle Repairs

PBS show features 3 threatened sites, and the public-private efforts to preserve them

National park maintenance
© “This American Land”

When smart, dedicated people from different organizational cultures come together to pursue a goal, good things can happen. Leaders at the National Park Service (NPS) know this and have entered into partnerships to address deferred maintenance projects at several NPS sites across the county.  The work ranges from fixing crumbling concrete and preserving archeological sites to restoring historic buildings and updating failing electrical systems—all part of an $11.3 billion maintenance backlog across the NPS’ more than 400 sites. The issues can affect access and safety, and even threaten the very items and sites the NPS was created to protect. 

With support from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign, the news magazine show “This American Land” visited three NPS sites to look at how these public-private partnerships are helping address deferred maintenance.  The show airs on PBS stations across the county. 

You can watch the full eight-minute story here, or click on the videos below for segments on each of the three iconic sites.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

To tackle millions of dollars in needed repairs at the Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, which commemorates the perseverance of George Washington’s army in the winter of 1777-78, the NPS partnered with a Montessori preschool. The organization repaired a historic building and renovated it into a schoolhouse on the site, which children have attended since 2010.


Through an NPS partnership with the Concrete Preservation Institute, veterans and college students are learning to repair the historic cement structures at Alcatraz while helping to restore one of the National Park Service’s most notorious sites—the mid-20th-century maximum security prison that has become one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions. 

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument, covering more than 33,000 acres of New Mexico mesa country, harbors rugged natural beauty and a trove of Native American history and culture. But pressure from a growing number of visitors and the passage of time are taking a toll here. Young Native American students are working with the NPS to preserve archeological sites, and the local transit authority is helping ensure that even more visitors can access the site. 

If you enjoyed these stories, please take a look at another “This American Land” story that explores three NPS sites where deferred maintenance continues to be a challenge.

Marcia Argust directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks.

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