Alexander: House Committee Approves Bipartisan Bill to Cut in Half Maintenance Backlog at 417 National Park Sites

Posted on September 13, 2018

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said approval of the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act by the House Natural Resources Committee puts the bill “one step closer to becoming law” and addressing the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog at our nation’s 417 national park sites.

“This legislation could do more to restore national parks than anything that has happened in the last half century, and the reason we need to restore them is so Americans can enjoy the 417 sites -- from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Grand Canyon to Yosemite – for generations to come,” Alexander said. “The bill will greatly reduce the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog in our parks and prevent situations such as with the Look Rock Campground on Chilhowee Mountain in the Smokies which once served 5,000 families a year, but has been closed for repairs for five years. Today’s approval of this bipartisan bill puts it one step closer to becoming law, and it is my hope that Congress is able to pass our proposal to help restore our parks this year.”

Today, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. The committee’s Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the legislation on July 25 along with Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Will Hurd (R-TX), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), which is companion legislation to the Senate’s Restore Our Parks Act.

The Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on the Restore Our Parks Act on July 11, 2018.

Alexander introduced the Senate version of the proposal, the Restore Our Parks Act, along with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine). The legislation now has 29 bipartisan cosponsors. The bipartisan legislation could cut in half the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog in our national parks over the next five years. The legislation is gaining near unanimous support – it has been praised by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who visited the Smokies to discuss the importance of the bill, and over 100 national, state, and local organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Restore America’s Parks Campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association.

Read more from Tennesseans on why Senator Alexander’s legislation is important:

The Chattanoogan: Jennie Bartoletti: Our National Parks Are Desperate for Repairs


The Knoxville News Sentinel: Vesna Plekanis: Thanks to Senator Lamar Alexander for fighting for Smokies funding


The Jackson Sun: Senator Lamar Alexander works to restore Shiloh, other national parks