A Senate committee has passed out to the full chamber legislation designed to make a significant cut in the roughly $12 billion maintenance backlog across the National Park System, but it faces long odds to become law this year, according to the National Parks Traveler.
The Restore Our Parks Act, which could provide upwards of $6.5 billion over five years specifically for backlogged maintenance in the parks, cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan 15-5 vote Tuesday (Nov. 19). The House Natural Resources Committee approved similar legislation back in June, though it remains to be seen if either measure appears before either the full Senate or full House for final action this year.
“This legislation could do more to restore our 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 419 sites – from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Grand Canyon – for generations to come,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who helped sponsor the Senate version. “This bill will help restore the campgrounds, trails, and roads in what one of America’s greatest story tellers, Ken Burns, calls ‘America’s best idea’ – our National Park System. This bill will allow future generations to enjoy America’s best idea in the same way that we have.”
At The Pew Charitable Trusts, Marcia Argust said the Senate committee’s vote was “yet another sign of the overwhelming public and congressional support to fix our parks. It’s now up to leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives to advance the bipartisan Restore Our Parks legislation. Enacting this measure into law would be a historic end-of-the-year gift to our national parks, their millions of visitors, and local economies.”
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