KPAX: Daines, Zinke introduce infrastructure fix for Glacier, other parks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines and eight other senators are throwing their support behind an ambitious plan to rebuild roads, bridges and other aging systems in Glacier and other National Parks.

It’s a plan that aims to tackle the $11 billion maintenance backlogs in the parks.

It doesn’t take long to see the growing problems with the infrastructure on a visit to Glacier National Park. It’s not just that the park is having a hard time keeping up with the crowds from the record breaking crowds in recent years. The parks are simply wearing out.

On many of the park’s popular roads, tourists are busier dodging potholes than taking pictures. And there are many places where slides and washouts that are several years old are still waiting for repairs. That’s in addition to campgrounds, water systems and buildings that need work.

Under the plan developed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and supported by Daines and the other senators, Interior would use revenues from energy productions on federal lands to pay for the work. At the same time, the bill would protect payments to states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other “existing uses”, which would still be prioritized over the National Park Restoration Fund. 

Interior has said the backlog of Park Service maintenance is nearly four times what the agency receives in its annual appropriation.