Did you know that 47% of the assets in our National Parks system threatened by deferred maintenance are historic and cultural resources? The Connecticut Trust has joined organizations nationwide to sign on to the National Trust for Historic Preservation letter supporting full funding for maintenance of our parks and for addressing the long backlog. We thank Congressman Jim Himes and Congressman Joe Courtney for cosponsoring HR6510, and we encourage our other federal representatives to do the same. Click here to learn more about our advocacy efforts.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Members of Congress:
As nonprofit organizations, businesses, and historians who support historic preservation, we urge you to work with us to preserve and protect our national parks and to support reliable and dedicated funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog of the National Park Service (NPS). Specifically, we ask for your support and cosponsorship of the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 3172) and Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 6510).
The National Park System is one of our nation’s best ideas – a network of 417 parks and sites that protect spectacular historic, cultural, and natural resources and tell the stories of remarkable people and events in our country’s history. The National Park System tells the story of remarkable people and events in our nation’s rich history at sites as diverse as Gettysburg National Military Park, Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and Native American cultural sites like Mesa Verde National Park.
National parks, and the historic and cultural sites they protect, are some of our nation’s most popular attractions and were visited by over 330 million people last year. Visitors are drawn to neighboring historic Main Street communities every year and in turn, these visitors support local businesses through hotel lodging, food and beverages, gas, and gear needed to explore our country’s historic, cultural, and natural sites. According to FY16 data, visitation to the national park system generated an estimated $18 billion in spending for nearby communities and regions, spending that supported 318,000 jobs and provided a $35 billion boost to the national economy.
Unfortunately, after over 100 years of operation and inconsistent public funding, the National Park System faces a deferred maintenance backlog estimated at $11.6 billion, and according to FY17 data, 47% of the backlog is attributed to historic assets. Deferred maintenance in our national parks puts historic and cultural sites at risk of permanent damage or loss, and in the absence of reliable and dedicated funding like that provided by pending legislation, the condition of these assets will continue to deteriorate and become more expensive to repair and preserve in the future.
A reliable, dedicated federal funding source to address the deferred maintenance backlog ensures that we preserve historic buildings, sites, and necessary infrastructure in safe condition, and that parks remain open and accessible so that the public can continue to learn from and experience the stories that tell our nation’s history. Our National Park System celebrates our historic and natural treasures, and we have a responsibility to ensure our parks are maintained and preserved so future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from them.
We urge your support for the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 3172) and Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 6510) and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure passage of this legislation before the end of the year.