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U.S. Public Lands and Rivers Conservation

The Great American Outdoors Act Is a Sound Investment in the Nation’s Parks and Communities

The National Park Service (NPS) is over 100 years old, and many of the more than 400 sites it manages nationwide have aging infrastructure and facilities. To address this problem, federal lawmakers in 2020 enacted the Great American Outdoors Act, the largest investment in national park infrastructure since World War II. The law provides up to $6.65 billion over five years for repairs to roads, bridges, trails, historic buildings, water and electrical systems, memorials and monuments, and other park resources.

According to the NPS, Americans and tourists from across the globe made 327 million visits to national park sites in 2019, and visitor spending generated 340,500 jobs and more than $41 billion in national economic output. Successful implementation of the act will require the NPS to prioritize infrastructure needs, work with outside partners, and ensure a transparent process.

For more information on Pew’s work on deferred maintenance funding for national parks and our efforts to ensure that the resources are used judiciously, see below.

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Getty Images
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National Parks to Get Long-Overdue Repairs

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives worked across the aisle to craft the Great American Outdoors Act, which recently passed both bodies with overwhelming support.

Gettysburg
Gettysburg
Article

Investing in Overdue Maintenance at National Parks Could Generate 100,000 Jobs

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Addressing the National Park Service’s (NPS’) nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog would create or support more than 100,000 infrastructure-related jobs, a Pew-commissioned analysis by the Cadmus Group found. This number, based on fiscal year 2018 NPS data, is a reminder of the powerful contribution that national parks make to the U.S. economy.

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Eastham Coast Guard Station
Eastham Coast Guard Station
Article

Report Offers Innovative Ways to Help Fix Our National Parks

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America’s National Park System protects our natural treasures and cultural history while offering ample opportunity for recreation, education, and contemplation—from hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and exploring the country’s origins at Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia to reflecting on the fight for equality at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta.