03.07.18

Daines Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Help Restore and Rebuild National Parks

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

 

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today joined a group of eight senators and two representatives to introduce 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 U.S. national parks. The legislation was announced during a press conference with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Daines and his Senate and House 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. 

NPS press conference

“Montanans are blessed to have America’s most beautiful national parks right outside our front doors,” said Daines. “These critical economic drivers must be maintained and protected so that our outdoor economy can continue to grow and our parks remain accessible to all Montanans. This bipartisan bill is a commonsense step forward to ensure that the challenges facing our national parks are finally addressed. I remain committed to protecting the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addressing other programs with maintenance needs.” 

“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."

Statements of Support:

“I was delighted to learn that Senator Daines is introducing a bill to generate additional funds to restore our National Parks. All of us in the tourism industry rely on our National Parks to serve as a focus to bring tourists to Montana from all over the world.  Often I'm ashamed when our customer's ask about the condition of the facilities in Glacier National Park. We have ignored proper repair and maintenance of these irreplaceable places for too long.  I hope you can get this job done.” –Homer Staves, Owner of Whitefish Montana KOA, President of Montana Wyoming KOA Owner’s Association, and President of the Campground Owner’s Association of Montana

“The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce supports the National Parks Restoration Act to help address the estimated $11 billion National Park Service maintenance backlog for roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails, water systems and more.  In Northwest Montana, Flathead Valley businesses rely on a fully-functioning Glacier National Park to accommodate the 3 million+ visitors that support our local economy” - Joe Unterreiner, President, Kalispell Chamber of Commerce and CVB.

“Thank you for your leadership in developing the National Park Restoration Act, an important effort to overcome the more than $11 billion backlog in maintenance in our national parks. Roads, buildings, trails, campgrounds, water systems and more suffer from this accumulated problem – and visitor safety and enjoyment of our parks natural and historic resources are very real concerns. - Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, including the American Horse Council, Archery Trade Association, Association of Marina Industries, American Sportfishing Association, BoatUS, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, Motorcycle Industry Council, National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Park Hospitality Association, Outdoor Industry Association, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association, Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America

“The Corps Network is appreciative of this timely effort to help address the National Park Service maintenance backlog and applaud introduction of the bicameral National Park Restoration Act. Our Corps across the country help support parks, and other public lands maintenance needs, in order to maintain and expand access to recreation opportunities and productive fish and wildlife habitat. We welcome this legislation in contributing to the ongoing conversation of developing new solutions to address this important issue. Americans expect and deserve their public lands to be in a good condition when they visit, and we look forward to working with the sponsors, and other supporters of our parks and public lands, in moving forward a widely-supported solution to this problem.” - Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President & CEO, The Corps Network

Montana Outfitters and Guides Association is proud to support the National Park and Restoration Act introduced by Senator Daines along with Senators Alexander, Tillis, Capito, Heinrich, King, and Manchin to address Deferred Maintenance within our National Park Service system.  In Montana we recognize the vital importance that the National Parks play in fostering local economies and keeping these national treasures relevant to the visiting public.  The maintenance backlog, including roads, buildings, campgrounds and trails must be addressed.  We are thankful for the leadership of Secretary Zinke for identifying this need and re responsiveness of Senator Daines and others to address it.” - MOGA Statement by Mac Minard, Executive Director 

“The West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce appreciates the time and attention that Senator Daines is expending in finding solution to the critical maintenance issues facing the Country’s National Parks.  We certainly applaud his recognition of the importance of the National Parks to the people and his commitment to them.   That the proposal does not limit the annual appropriation to the Park Service for regular maintenance also speaks to his recognition of the needs and demands of the day-to-day impact of visitors to the Parks.” - Marysue Costello, President/CEO, West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce

“Serving on the front lines to address the $11 billion of maintenance backlog impacting treasured places like Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, Montana Conservation Corps is pleased to see our nation's leaders stepping forward with the introduction of the National Park Restoration Act, a proposal to bring forward the financial resources required to tackle the immense maintenance needs of our parks. This bill may enable the mobilization of youth and veterans serving in conservation corps programs across the country to improve trails, campgrounds, and natural resources that thrill the over 4 million visitors to parks like Yellowstone. MCC values that new solutions are needed to address the maintenance crisis in our national parks. We look forward to working with the bill's sponsors in the Senate and House to craft a broadly-supported approach to enhance America's most treasured wild places. And our corps members look forward to donning their work gloves and picking up their hand-tools to get things done for our national parks.” - Jono McKinney, President and CEO, Montana Conservation Corps

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. 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. 

Provides mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog on top of annual appropriations for operations and construction at the National Park Service.

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 U.S. national parks can limit access and impair visitor experiences and recreation opportunities. 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. On April 4, the president donated $78,333 – his salary from his first few months in office – to NPS to address infrastructure needs of national battlefields.

Background:

On February 9, 2018, Senate Western Caucus members led by Chairman Steve Daines (MT) sent a letter to President Trump following his State of the Union Address, urging him to include a set of core western principles and concepts in the President’s planned infrastructure proposal.

In Apri1 2017, Daines secured recognition of National Parks Week, to increase awareness for the importance of preserving our national parks for a second century and address the maintenance backlog.

On March 17, 2017, Daines congratulated Secretary Zinke for his appointment and urged him to address the nation’s national park maintenance backlog. 

On January 21, 2017, Daines announced that he would take the gavel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks and outlined his goals as Subcommittee Chair, including reducing the maintenance backlog.

On January 5, 2017, Daines met with Secretary Zinke to discuss his priorities, including the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog.

 

 

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