Legislation Would Help Parks Address $12 Billion Maintenance Backlog

By Laurel Morales
Published: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 1:35pm
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More than 400 former National Park Service employees have urged the U.S. House to pass legislation that would provide billions of dollars for parks. The Senate passed the bill last month. 

The bipartisan legislation would dedicate billions of dollars in oil and gas exploration fees to the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the Grand Canyon, Saguaro and national parks throughout the country. 

Phil Francis is the chairman of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks and a former park superintendent. He said the money would go to repair roads, water pipelines, trails, and much more.

“So many people really don’t realize I think how many assets the National Park Service actually has to manage and the budget’s been relatively flat over the past dozen years or so,” Francis said.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says visitor spending at parks resulted in a $40 billion benefit to the nation’s economy in 2018.

The oil and gas fees, which amount to $1.9 billion a year, have been spent on other Congressional priorities. Under the Great American Outdoors Act half of those revenues would be spent on park maintenance over the next five years.