Alexander: Funding Bill Includes Millions More to Help Reduce National Park Backlog

Posted on March 22, 2018

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today applauded Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for including increased funding in the government funding bill for maintenance backlog projects in our national parks, saying “this funding is a great starting point” for rebuilding our national parks’ – like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s – campgrounds, trails and roads.

“I thank Senator Murkowski for her hard work as chairman of the Senate’s Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to increase funding to help address the national park maintenance backlog,” Alexander said. “This bill provides increased funding for maintenance backlog projects across the country – which will help restore campgrounds, trails and roads in our national parks. This funding is a great starting point — the next step is to pass our bipartisan legislation to help restore and rebuild our national parks by helping pay for the remaining $11 billion maintenance backlog.”

The government spending bill includes increased funding for our national park service maintenance backlog, including an increase of $138 million above the budget request to address the longstanding deferred maintenance and major construction needs of the National Park Service; an increase of $35 million to address cyclic maintenance needs, repair and rehabilitation projects, and project planning; and $23 million for the Centennial Challenge grant program to address projects with a deferred maintenance component.

Alexander’s legislation — the National Park Restoration Act — will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to provide mandatory funding for the maintenance backlog at our national parks. This legislation uses a well-established conservation principle: taking some of the money created by an environmental burden and using it for an environmental benefit. “With the president’s support and bipartisan support in the House and Senate, I’m hopeful this legislation will become law this year, and we can do even more to address the maintenance backlog,” Alexander added.

Alexander is the sponsor of the National Park Restoration Act, which he introduced on March 7 with Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). Representatives John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), and Will Hurd (R-Texas) are also cosponsors of the House version of the legislation.

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