Historic walls in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Railroad tracks in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. What do these parks have in common? They’re among the hundreds of National Park Service (NPS) sites with overdue repair needs that are compromising resources and the visitor experience.
Now, however, momentum is building in Congress for passage of legislation to provide funding for deferred maintenance across the park system, and numerous members of Congress are touring parks in their states to raise awareness of the need to fix these sites. Over half of park assets—from trails, historic buildings, visitor centers, and roads to other infrastructure such as water, sewer, and electrical systems—are in disrepair. The estimated cost of making all overdue repairs is $11.9 billion.
Since Feb. 14, when a bipartisan group of representatives and senators introduced bills (H.R. 1225 and S. 500) to restore our parks, one-third of senators and over one-third of House members from both sides of the aisle have signed on as co-sponsors. The White House has also expressed support for the legislation.
That enthusiasm reflects the will of the voters: A poll by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that more than 75 percent of Americans back the proposal to provide up to $6.5 billion over five years to address deferred maintenance issues.
More than 3,000 local elected official, organizations, and businesses, including veterans’ groups, state tourism societies, hotel and restaurant associations, contractors, and recreation industry companies, have endorsed the legislation.
Here are some photos of the bills’ sponsors—those leading the legislative charge to get NPS sites repaired—learning about the maintenance issues in their states.
Marcia Argust directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks.