Warner calls for action to repair crumbling national parks
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) met with Jennifer Flynn, Superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, as well as Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park,at Sen. Warner’s office in Washington, D.C.
In the meeting, Sen. Warner emphasized the need to pass the Restore Our Parks Act – bipartisan legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog at national parks across the country. Recent figures from the National Park Service (NPS) show that the deferred maintenance backlog grew by more than $313 million last year – with a $100 million increase in Virginia alone. The maintenance backlog at Shenandoah National Park increased by more than $9 million in 2018, bringing its total to $88,765,195. The total overall cost of backlogged maintenance projects at NPS sites nationwide now reaches $11.9 billion, with Virginia accounting for over $1 billion of this backlog.
“Shenandoah National Park, like many national parks, is in dire need of maintenance,” said Sen. Warner. “If Congress fails to act, key infrastructure at the park will continue to deteriorate, harming the local economies and communities that rely on this national treasure. We need to properly invest in our national parks and their surrounding communities by passing the Restore Our Parks Act.”
According to the National Park Service, the 1.26 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2018 spent $87 million in the surrounding communities. This visitor spending supports 1,077 local jobs and more than $116 million in economic output.
The Restore Our Parks Act has widespread support among legislators and conservation groups. It would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore 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, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.
The latest data on Virginia’s national park deferred maintenance backlog as of 2018 is available here.