Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today cosponsored the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS).
“For several years, we’ve seen the effects of chronic underfunding of our public land management agencies—and the National Park Service maintenance backlog is one of the most glaring examples,” Bennet said. “National Parks not only contribute to our economy, but are cornerstones of the legacy we’ll leave our children and grandchildren. We must pass this bill to reduce the maintenance backlog, while providing robust funding to our land management agencies at large. Only then will we hand off these iconic places in better shape for the next generation.”
Over the past decade, Congressional financial support for park maintenance has decreased by 40 percent, and the last time Congress directly addressed the infrastructure needs of the park system was in 1956. The Restore Our Parks Act would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, providing up to $6.5 billion over the next five years specifically to address deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service. The legislation has been praised by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association.
In a November 2017 letter to Interior Secretary Zinke, Bennet acknowledged the importance of addressing the NPS maintenance backlog in a comprehensive way, while opposing standalone NPS park fee increases.