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U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today joined multiple lawmakers to introduce a bipartisan bill that would restore America’s National Parks using up to $18 billion in revenue from energy produced on federal lands and waters, according to a news release.
The legislation would establish a special fund within the treasury specifically for the restoration and would be the largest investment in the national parks in the nation’s history. It also fulfills one of the priorities laid out in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for rebuilding public lands infrastructure.
“Infrastructure is an investment, not merely an expense,” said Zinke in the news release. “Every dollar we put into rebuilding our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality. Since the early days of my confirmation, I’ve been talking with members of the House and Senate about how we can use energy revenue to rebuild and revitalize our parks and communities.”
The National Park Service estimates that its maintenance and repair backlog exceeds $11.6 billion. In 2017, the park service completed maintenance and repair work totaling more than $650 million, but aging facilities, visitation rates exceeding 330 million people, and resource constraints have kept the backlog in the billions since 2010.
Some examples of the repair projects include:
· Everglades National Park in Florida – Showers, campgrounds, and lodges that were destroyed during a hurricane more than a decade ago remain broken. The total Everglades maintenance backlog cost is more than $90 million.
· Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore – Earlier this month, an observation deck overlooking Lake Michigan crumbled and fell to the ground after years of erosion. The total Indiana Dunes maintenance backlog cost is more than $26 million.
· Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona – A pipeline, and the only infrastructure to deliver water to the South Rim Village of 19,634 people daily for drinking, cooking and firefighting, breaks several times a year putting the well-being of the community including park lodges, visitor centers, homes, and Grand Canyon hikers at risk. The total Grand Canyon maintenance backlog cost is more than $329 million.
· Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York/New Jersey – More than $34 million is needed to stabilize the Ellis Island Seawall, which protects the island from erosion of wave action. Nearly $4 million also is needed to rehabilitate the Fire-Life-Safety System in the Main Immigration Building, where 2.2 million annual visitors start and end their visit to the island. The total Statue of Liberty National Monument maintenance backlog cost is more than $166 million.