In a recent letter to the White House, SMACNA asked President Donald Trump to support and sign H.R. 1957, The Great American Outdoors Act, introduced by Representatives Cunningham (D-SC-1), Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Katko (R-NY-24) and by Senators Gardner (R-CO) and Manchin (D-WV) and more than 50 bipartisan Senators. H.R. 1957 passed in the Senate and House by an overwhelming majority vote on June 17th and July 22nd. H.R. 1957 would cut the National Park Service’s (NPS) $12 billion repair backlog in half, address maintenance needs at other public land agencies, and provide dedicated annual funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Administration has indicated support for this legislation and that the President will sign it into law once it passed Congress. SMACNA enthusiastically supports the initiative’s vast list of targeted investments in infrastructure repair and construction. The top four reasons why Congress should pass the Great American Outdoors Act to help restore national parks:
- Priority, long overdue infrastructure repairs would be made first. This bill would direct up to $6.65 billion over five years to address long overdue priority maintenance needs in the National Park System. An additional $3 billion would be available to address deferred maintenance in national forests, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management lands, and Bureau of Indian Education schools. Under this legislation, the repairs would be financed by mineral revenues from energy development on federal lands and waters, under a system that has been in place for decades.
- Communities across the country would also benefit. NPS maintains more than 400 sites across the country and directing funds to address the maintenance backlog would help parks in every region. National parks are proven economic engines that bring over $18 billion each year in direct spending to communities, along with more than 325,000 jobs and tax revenue. Infrastructure maintenance will also help generate additional jobs.
- Americans support fixing our parks. The desire to restore our NPS sites is popular with American voters. A 2019 poll found 82 percent of those polled support restoring parks.
- NPS visitation is on the rise. The NPS reports that for the fifth year in a row that visits topped 300 million. Therefore, it is imperative that NPS repair and update deteriorating roads, trails, campgrounds, bathrooms, historic buildings, and other vital infrastructure.