America is home to some of the most incredible lands on Earth, many of which are managed by the National Park Service. Currently, however, the National Park Service faces nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance at NPS sites. This backlog threatens to prevent current and future generations from experiencing these iconic lands.
Last week, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME), reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA), legislation which would address this deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service. This consensus legislation is the same as the ROPA legislation that was reported out of committee last year and already boasts 25 co-sponsors.
Similar legislation, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, was reintroduced in the House by Representatives Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and has more than 90 co-sponsors.
The bills would create the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to reduce the backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. The funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years. The fund will be used to repair park roads, visitor facilities, water systems, crumbling trails and numerous other park resources.
The RV Industry Association supports immediate action to address deferred maintenance at our national parks and commends the introduction of the Restore Our Parks Act and the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. The RV industry depends on public lands, which hosts 700 million visits annually. While RV shipments have increased significantly over the past nine years, RV overnight stays at national parks are declining. Inadequate park service campgrounds, water systems and other utilities reduce overnight visitation and enjoyment, deteriorating or closed roads, bridges and campgrounds negatively impact RV users.
Without swift action, the maintenance backlog will continue to snowball into an even larger problem that will impair the entire outdoor recreation industry. Outdoor recreation makes up 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and is the number one driver of economic activity on federal lands - every dollar invested in the NPS returns $10 to the U.S. economy.
America’s public lands have not been treated as the national treasures that they are. The Restore Our Parks Act and Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would be the first steps towards refurbishing these cherished lands to their glory and ensuring that they continue to inspire and awe Americans for generations to come.