Gardner, Alexander, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Help Restore and Rebuild Our National Parks

Say bill will help pay for $11 billion National Park maintenance backlog, including buildings, campgrounds, trails and water systems

WASHINGTON, – Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), along with eight of their colleagues, today introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to help pay for the over $11 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks. Gardner, Alexander, and their colleagues have been working with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the National Park Restoration Act, which will help restore and rebuild roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails and water systems in the country’s national parks for the next generation of visitors. 


U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) are original cosponsors.


“Coloradans know firsthand how important it is to make timely investments and infrastructure upgrades to our parks,” said Senator Gardner. “This bipartisan legislation provides the funding necessary to help address the billions of dollars in deferred maintenance that the park system is currently facing in Colorado and across the country. It’s time to show our love to our beloved national parks.”


“This legislation will help address the over $11billion maintenance backlog at our national parks, including the $215 million backlog of projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Senator Alexander said. “The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures – and it has a tremendous economic impact in East Tennessee, attracting nearly twice the visitors of any other national park. Addressing the maintenance backlog will help attract even more visitors and create more jobs for Tennesseans. We must continue to work together to find solutions to the many challenges facing our public lands, and this legislation takes an important step toward doing that.”


"?Infrastructure is an investment, not merely an expense. And every dollar we put in to 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," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.? "Infrastructure is also about access for all Americans. Not all visitors to our parks? ?have the? ?ability to hike with a 30-pound pack and camp in the wilderness miles away from utilities. ? ?In order for families with young kids?, ?elderly grandparents?, or persons with disabilities? to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers. This bill is the largest investment in National Parks in our nation's history. This is not a republican or democrat issue, this is an American issue, and ?I think that the bipartisan body of lawmakers who put this bill forward is proof."


The National Park Restoration Act:


  • ·       Creates the National Park Restoration Fund to provide mandatory funding for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs that support critical infrastructure and visitor services at our national parks.
  • ·       Provides mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog on top of annual appropriations for operations and construction at the National Park Service.
  • ·       The fund receives 50 percent of onshore and offshore revenues from energy production on federal lands over expected amounts that are not already allocated to other purposes. 
  • ·       Protects payments to states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Reclamation Fund, and all other existing uses of onshore and offshore revenues. These existing uses will receive all of their funding before the National Park Restoration Fund receives any funding.


The backlog of infrastructure projects at our national parks can limit access and impair visitor experiences and recreation opportunities, and without additional funding, the backlog could continue to grow. The National Park Service (NPS) maintenance backlog is nearly four times what NPS receives in annual appropriations. In Fiscal Year 2017 the NPS’ deferred maintenance needs were $11.6 billion – that same fiscal year, NPS received $2.9 million in annual appropriations.


President Trump and Secretary Zinke have made addressing the growing maintenance backlog a top priority.