Speeches & Testimony
1,800 Call on Congress to Fix Our Parks
Letter to lawmakers includes support from all 50 states
The Pew Charitable Trusts and a cross section of business and community leaders from all 50 states sent key members of Congress a letter Tuesday urging them to make repairing our national parks a priority. The letter, with 1,800 signatures, asked lawmakers to guarantee funding to chip away at the National Park Service’s almost $12 billion deferred maintenance list and put measures in place to prevent the backlog from growing.
Below is the letter, along with a list of national organizations that signed on. You can download a copy with the full list of signatories here. If your organization, business, or community wants to add its name, send a request to Yaron Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Chair Murkowski, Chair Calvert, Ranking Member Udall, and Ranking Member McCollum:
2016 marked the 100th birthday of the National Park Service (NPS), which oversees more than 400 natural and cultural areas in all 50 states and most U.S. territories. NPS faces a growing challenge in adequately maintaining its sites to ensure that visitors can experience the parks’ natural beauty and learn about our nation’s history. After decades of underfunding, NPS has an infrastructure repair backlog estimated at $11.9 billion (FY 2015). This includes crucial repairs to aging historical structures and thousands of miles of roads and trails, bridges, tunnels, sewers, drainage, and other vital infrastructure.
Writer and historian Wallace Stegner said that national parks are “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” As companies, organizations, and associations, we support addressing the infrastructure repair backlog throughout these parks.
To address the backlog and put our national parks on sound financial footing for the future, we must do the following:
- Create a guaranteed federal fund that will chip away at the estimated $11.9 billion backlog over time.
- Implement policy reforms, such as entry and vendor fees, that will help to prevent repair backlog from accruing to begin with.
- Direct more Highway Trust Fund dollars to NPS, as half of the estimated $11.9 billion backlog is attributed to the 10,000 miles of roads and hundreds of bridges and tunnels that NPS must maintain and repair.
- Provide additional opportunities for public-private opportunities to address infrastructure repair.
From the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, to the Statue of Liberty to battlefields like Gettysburg, the National Park System serves as a living testament to our citizens’ valor, our hardships, our victories, and our traditions as Americans. We need to ensure that our children and grandchildren are able to see and appreciate our rich history in these places, and to learn more about the people and lands that have shaped us as a nation.
We urge you to work with us to protect our national parks well into the future and, in particular, to support guaranteed funding for infrastructure repair needs.
National SupportersAmerican Alpine Club
American Alpine Institute
American Cultural Resources Association
American Institute of Architects
Archaeological Institute of America
American Hiking Society
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Family Motor Coach Association
Hispanics Enjoying Camping Hiking & the Outdoors (HECHO)
International Dark-Sky Association
International Inbound Travel Association
International Mountain Bicycling Association
Institute for Bird Populations
Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity, Inc.
National Parks Conservation Association
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Outdoor Industry Association
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
Society for American Archaeology
Society for Historical Archaeology
Student Conservation Association
The Corps Network
The Pew Charitable Trusts
U.S. Conference of Mayors
Vet Voice Foundation
Compass Points Post
Crumbling seawalls highlight need to fund overdue national park repairs