Nearly 80% of Americans support Mark Warner effort to pass park maintenance backlog bill
A recent national poll released by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows the vast majority of Americans believe Congress should pass bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS).
The poll found that 76 percent of respondents favor a plan outlined in the Restore Our Parks Act to set aside billions of dollars to help tackle deferred maintenance at the Park Service. The bill currently has 32 bipartisan cosponsors and is supported by the Trump Administration and more than 100 groups. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the bill on a bipartisan 19-4 vote last month and it currently awaits consideration by the full Senate.
“These results are clear. Americans want Congress to move forward on our commonsense, bipartisan solution to clear the backlog caused by years of chronic underfunding at our National Parks,” said Sen. Warner. “The Senate should take note of this growing national momentum and move forward to pass this legislation before the end of the year.”
Due to years of chronic underfunding, NPS has deferred maintenance for a year or more on visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds in Virginia, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as Blue Ridge and George Washington Memorial Parkways. In the last year, the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites in Virginia grew by $250 million, to over a billion dollars and the Commonwealth now ranks third among all states in total deferred maintenance, trailing only California and the District of Columbia. That figure includes roughly $80 million of overdue maintenance at Shenandoah National Park, one of the crown jewels of our nation’s park system.
Virginia contains 22 national parks and affiliated areas that are spread throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Park Service maintains over 120 National Historic Landmarks throughout Virginia, including Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, and the State Capitol Building. In 2017, over 24 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending over $1 billion. National parks in Virginia helped support more than 15,000 jobs and contributed over $1.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy.