What needs fixing in your favorite national park?

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Mar 16, 2016
What needs fixing in your favorite national park? Now you can look it up

As Americans headed outdoors for the last weekend of summer, advocates for national parks and monuments were reminding them that those public treasures need some serious attention.

The backlog of delayed maintenance and repairs has reached $11 billion, including $1 billion in Virginia, and it’s growing every year.

About half the problems are with paved roads, bridges and tunnels, and more than $5 billion is needed for campgrounds, water systems, monuments, fortifications, buildings and myriad other projects, according to the National Park Service.

To help people get their head around the massive $11 billion request, Pew Charitable Trust developed an
interactive website that allows anyone online to find what repairs are needed at each site.

In Virginia, for example, preserved Civil War battlefields at Petersburg, Richmond, Manassas, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg need $35 million. Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton could use $2.3 million. Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park, where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, needs $2 million.

The largest request in Virginia is $422 million for The Colonial National Historical Park, which includes Historic Jamestown and the Yorktown Battlefield. Most of the funding would be for transportation-related projects, including roads and bridges. About $1 million would be devoted to historic monuments and fortifications.

Lynn Davis of the Virginia Association for Parks said her organization hopes that Pew’s online tool will motivate people to support an effort in Congress to allocate money for the work.

“Identifying repairs needed at national park sites in Virginia brings home that we must make it a priority to secure reliable funding to preserve these national treasures in our own backyard,” Davis said in a statement. She noted that the national parks also support a lucrative tourism industry.

Despite the divisive rancor in Washington, a proposal to allocate billions for maintenance appears to have bipartisan support in the Senate as well as from the Trump Administration.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is chief co-sponsor, along with two Republicans and an independent, of the Restore Our Parks Act, which proposed to spend $12 billion on backlogged work over five years. The money would be allocated from revenues the federal government receives from onshore and offshore energy production

“In the last year, the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites in Virginia grew by $250 million, to over a billion dollars,” Warner said when the legislation was introduced earlier this summer. “Virginia now ranks third among all states in total deferred maintenance, trailing only California and the District of Columbia. The longer we wait to address the crumbling infrastructure in our national parks, the worse the problem gets.”

The measure, now in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has the backing of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who stated in June that it “is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue.”

“Park infrastructure is about access for all Americans,” Zinke said. “In order for families, children, elderly grandparents or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers.”

Full article with pics can be found here - https://pilotonline.com/news/government/nation/article_f98c8214-ad41-11e8-ab82-6ff92318024f.html?__vfz=medium=sharebar


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