(Washington D.C., Thursday, July 16, 2020) – The country’s national parks and public lands comprise the nation’s most significant natural and cultural treasures. These lands preserve American heritage and history and offer unparalleled recreation opportunities for hundreds of millions of visitors each year. These irreplaceable resources also are major economic engines, propelling a nationwide outdoor recreation economy that supports more than five million American jobs, contributes over $778 billion in annual economic output, and serves as the lifeblood for countless communities across the country.
But for years, the National Park Service has been operating on a shoestring budget while dealing with decreases in staffing and record visitation. On top of these woes, the Park System’s maintenance backlog has reached an all-time high – nearly $12 billion in needed repairs to crumbling roads, trails, restrooms, visitor centers and other infrastructure. Grand Canyon’s aging water system, which supplies drinking water for millions of visitors is falling apart, while Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road, built for carriages, is crumbling. Critical repair projects have been put on the backburner for decades, and now our parks are reaching a breaking point.
The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422/H.R. 7092) invests in the repair of national park and public lands infrastructure and in protecting and providing recreational access through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to national, state, and local parks, forests, wildlife areas, and other public lands.
The bill would direct up to $6.5 billion in non-taxpayer monies over five years to address priority repairs in national parks across the country. It would also provide $900 million per year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect land in our national parks and other public lands from development and to support recreational facilities.
National Parks Conservation Association is the voice of America’s national parks, working to protect and preserve the nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for present and future generations. They celebrate the parks — and work tirelessly to defend them — whether on the ground, in the courtroom or on Capitol Hill.