A Trump Administration official Tuesday told U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander that “there is no way in the world” the U.S. could address the deferred maintenance backlog at our 418 national parks without the Restore our Parks Act.
"The Restore Our Parks Act, legislation that I introduced with Senators Portman, Warner, and King in February to cut in half the maintenance backlog at our national parks, will help restore our national parks so Americans can enjoy them,” Senator Alexander said. “I think this legislation is the only way to address the deferred maintenance backlog in our 418 national parks, and the Trump Administration agrees. 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.”
Senator Alexander discussed the Restore Our Parks Act Tuesday with Scott Cameron, U.S. Department of Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing to examine the deferred maintenance backlog on federal lands administered by the Department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service. Mr. Cameron told Senator Alexander that the Restore Our Parks Act is the only way to address maintenance backlog in our 418 national parks. Their conversation is below.
Senator Alexander asked: “The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which is our most visited national park, has a backlog of $235 million of deferred maintenance, it has an annual appropriation of $20 million and no entrance fee because of the way the park was created. Do you see any way we can deal with that $235 million deferred maintenance backlog without something like the proposal that the president has made in his budget and that is included in the Restore Our Parks Act – to use funding from energy development on federal lands to provide mandatory funding to cut the maintenance backlog in half.”
Mr. Cameron responded: “Senator Alexander, there is no way in the world we could deal with those sorts of problems you just described, whether it is the Great Smokies or at parks like Acadia or elsewhere around the country, and we definitely need the legislation you referred to, and are grateful for the committee’s interest in this topic, and hope you get the mark up soon.”
Senator 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 Feb. 14. 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.