Alexander: New Bipartisan Bill is Best Way to Fix Our National Parks So Americans Can Enjoy Them

By   /  July 12, 2018  /  Comments Off on Alexander: New Bipartisan Bill is Best Way to Fix Our National Parks So Americans Can Enjoy Them

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Source: United States Senator for Tennessee Lamar Alexander

Hi folks,

Want to highlight some key VIDEO of Senator Alexander talking about today’s hearing on national parks. At the hearing, the senator discussed legislation he introduced that will help address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog in the National Park Service, including the $215 million in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  

Alexander said on the hearing: “We hear a lot about partisan disagreements in Washington, DC, and that’s true, but we had one very bright spot today of near unanimous agreement, and it was about our national parks. Our legislation would deal with the deferred maintenance backlog in our national parks — the bathrooms, the roads, the trails, visitor centers, all of the parts of our 417 national parks that are rundown — and we intend to try to fix it over the next five years with a $6.5 billion fund that comes from royalties from energy development on our federal lands. For the Great Smokies, that means up to $215 million to deal with deferred maintenance — such places as the Look Rock Campground, which 5,000 families a year could use, but it’s been closed since 2013 because there wasn’t enough money to take care of the repairs there. I’m very encouraged by this. It has the support of President Trump, the environmental groups, Democrats and Republicans. We hope to make it law by the end of the year.”

More information on the bill HERE.

Below is more information on today’s hearing, which includes video of the senator’s remarks. 

*Senator Alexander discusses how new compromise bill would help address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog in our country’s 417 national parks.* 

“This legislation could do more to restore 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 417 sites — from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Grand Canyon to Yosemite – for generations to come.” 

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that a new bipartisan bill to help pay for nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance at our national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the single best way to fix our national parks so Americans can enjoy them.

“This legislation could do more to restore 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 417 sites — from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Grand Canyon to Yosemite – for generations to come,” Alexander said. “This compromise bill will greatly reduce the deferred maintenance backlog in our parks and prevent situations such as with the Look Rock Campground on Chilhowee Mountain in the Smokies, which once was visited by 5,000 families a year, but has been closed for repairs for five years. And this is just one example of how the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog negatively impacts visitor experiences across the country.”

Alexander continued: “Too many roads, trails, campgrounds and visitors centers are in bad shape, and American families spending their vacations in our national parks are disappointed and sometimes shocked to find that they are in such bad shape or even closed. The backlog of projects comes with a big price tag – one that cannot be addressed with annual appropriations alone. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the maintenance backlog is $215 million. Each year, the Smokies receives $20 million in annual appropriations. That means the backlog at the Smokies is 10 times what the park receives in annual funding. Without a new funding source, how will the National Park Service ever be able to conquer the $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog?”

“Senators Portman and Warner deserve great credit for their leadership in developing this compromise legislation, and I’m hopeful, with our near unanimous support, the legislation will become law this year.”

Today at the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources National Parks Subcommittee hearing, Alexander discussed the Restore Our Parks Act — bipartisan legislation he introduced with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) that would help address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS). The consensus proposal is the product of bipartisan discussions among the senators who had previously introduced similar bills, the National Park Service Legacy Act (Warner/Portman) and the National Park Restoration Act (Alexander/King). In addition to these four members, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) are cosponsors of the bill. 

Alexander said that as a result of the compromise among senators the Restore Our Parks Act is gaining near unanimous support. The consensus legislation has been praised by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Restore America’s Parks Campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association.

NOTE: The Restore Our Parks Act would establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to reduce the maintenance backlog 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 are currently deposited into the General Treasury not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

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