Posted on May 22, 2019
“This legislation is supported by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, the Trump Administration and more than 100 conservation groups. When an idea this good – fixing our national parks for future generations – gets this much bipartisan support, it’s going to happen sooner or later, and it is my hope we pass the legislation as soon as this year.”
*Click here or on the photo above for video of their conversation.*
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2019 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today received a commitment from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that the Restore our Parks Act – legislation that would cut in half the maintenance backlog at our national parks and help restore our 418 national parks so Americans can enjoy them – is a priority of the Trump Administration.
“Secretary Bernhardt told me today that passing the Restore our Parks Act, which I introduced with Senators Portman, Warner, and King, is a priority of the Trump Administration. The Restore Our Parks Act would be the biggest help to the National Park Service in 50 years – it would cut in half the maintenance backlog at our national parks and help restore our 418 national parks so Americans can enjoy them. This is especially important to Tennessee, because our state is home to one of America’s greatest treasures – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the country and welcomed a record-setting 11.4 million visitors in 2018,” Alexander said. “The legislation is supported by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, the Trump Administration and more than 100 conservation groups. When an idea this good – fixing our national parks for future generations – gets this much bipartisan support, it’s going to happen sooner or later, and it is my hope we pass the legislation as soon as this year.”
Alexander introduced the Restore Our Parks Act with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Angus King (I-ME) on February 14, 2019. The legislation would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on 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 to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.
Alexander discussed the Restore Our Parks Act with Secretary Bernhardt at today’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing to review the U.S. Department of Interior’s fiscal year 2020 budget request. Alexander also asked the secretary about a study to evaluate including the Polk Home in Colombia, Tennessee, into the National Park System. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which became law earlier this year, included legislation directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to evaluate including the Polk Home in the National Park System. Once the study is completed, the Secretary will report the conclusions and recommendations to Congress, and Congress will then have to pass a new law to add the Polk Home to the National Park System.
Alexander said, “President James K. Polk’s home in Columbia, Tennessee, is a national treasure that should be protected for generations to come. The home is currently protected by a very dedicated group of volunteers, but they are quickly running out of resources. In April 2015, a reconnaissance survey was completed by the National Park Service at my request. I then introduced legislation to authorize that special resource study, and earlier this year, that legislation became law.” Alexander continued, “The reconnaissance survey said the ‘James K. Polk Home is conclusively nationally significant,’ and I agree. We must preserve sites like President Polk’s Home for future generations. I was glad to hear Secretary Bernhardt commit to me today that he will complete this study, so we can take the next step in protecting this historic site”