Americans Want Congress to Pass National Parks Maintenance Bill

Poll shows overwhelming support for making overdue repairs at sites nationwide

Gettysburg
A worker makes repairs to an historic structure at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
The Pew Charitable Trusts

The vast majority of Americans believe Congress should pass a bill, now pending, to address priority repairs at the 418 national park sites across the country, according to a poll released on Nov. 19. Conducted by the opinion and market research company SSRS for The Pew Charitable Trusts, the poll found that 76 percent of respondents favor a plan before Congress to set aside up to $6.5 billion over the next five years to help address the nearly $12 billion repair backlog plaguing the National Park Service (NPS).

Additionally, more than 9 out of 10 voters surveyed said it is important for the NPS to:

  • Maintain hiking trails in good condition – 93 percent
  • Preserve historic buildings and landmarks – 94 percent
  • Ensure roads are safe and can accommodate modern vehicles and RVs – 95 percent
  • Update visitor facilities such as campgrounds and bathrooms –  94 percent                       

The legislation—the Restore Our Parks Act in the Senate and its House companion, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act—reflect over two years of work by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The measures would dedicate up to $6.5 billion over five years for maintenance and repairs at national parks. That funding would, among other benefits, generate infrastructure-related jobs. A third of Senators and almost half of all House members support the legislation. Almost 3,000 organizations and elected leaders across the country have called on Congress to dedicate more resources to restoring our national parks. 

The aging National Park System is in dire need of repairs and upgrades due to decades of underfunding for maintenance needs, resulting in the nearly $12 billion repair backlog. It is critical that Congress act now to restore our park sites, which help preserve America’s history, lift local economies, and provide a diverse array of places for people to learn and play. 

The survey was conducted for The Pew Charitable Trusts via telephone (landline and cell) by SSRS, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted Oct. 30–Nov. 4, 2018, among a representative sample of 1,004 total respondents. The margin of error with design effect is +/-3.8 percentage points, at a confidence level of 95 percent.

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

Yellowstone landscape
Yellowstone landscape
Fact Sheet

National Park Case Studies

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Fact Sheet

The National Park Service needs almost $12 billion to eliminate its backlog of deferred maintenance. The Pew Charitable Trusts' campaign to restore America's parks has created a series of case studies highlighting examples of repairs needed at our nation's treasures.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Opinion

Restoring Our National Parks Would Be a Bipartisan Win for Congress

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Opinion

Restoring Our National Parks Would Be a Bipartisan Win for Congress

The Restore Our Parks Act in the Senate and the similar Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act in the House would begin to address the backlog in our National Park System by directing $6.5 billion in dedicated annual funding over five years to priority deferred maintenance needs.