1,800 Call on Congress to Fix Our Parks

Letter to lawmakers includes support from all 50 states 

1,800 Call on Congress to Fix Our Parks

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 ymiller@pewtrusts.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.

Sincerely,

National Supporters

American 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

GreenLatinos

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

Tourism Cares

U.S. Conference of Mayors

Vet Voice Foundation

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