Committee Passes Restore Our Parks Act

Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 1225, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and House Natural Resources Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) and garnering more than 290 bipartisan cosponsors. The bipartisan legislation would direct federal funds each year for five years to help address deferred maintenance within our national parks and public lands. The bill passed Committee by a vote of 36-2.

“Our national parks are our nation’s crown jewels – an extraordinary legacy to be taken care of and shared with future generations. With that in mind, I’m excited to see the House Committee on Natural Resources advance the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill will help address the much-needed repairs at Olympic National Park and throughout the park system, ensuring our parks can continue to provide amazing visitor experiences and serve as economic drivers for rural communities throughout America.” – Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)

“The overwhelming support for this bill puts it in a league of its own. There have been thousands of bills introduced this Congress and fewer than ten have garnered the support enjoyed by the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. Our park system is riddled with hazards that threaten the safety of Americans and park visitors. This bill addresses those issues at no added expense to the taxpayer. I thank chairman Grijalva for his support, and I look forward to standing with over 290 other cosponsors to vote in favor of passing this legislation on the House floor.” – House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT)  

“I am proud to have some of the Country’s most precious and beautiful landscapes in my district, but with those landscapes comes a $97.76 million deferred maintenance backlog, almost 45% of the State’s over $219 million total public lands backlog. This legislation is a step in the right direction to address our growing management needs. We must preserve these lands to ensure our grandchildren and their grandchildren are able to do the same.” – Representative John Curtis (R-UT)

“In Colorado, and across the country, our national parks are suffering under an extreme deferred maintenance backlog. In Rocky Mountain National Park alone, $84 million is needed to complete deferred maintenance services that have been put off due to budget constraints. The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act is critical to ensuring that our national parks are maintained the way they need to be and that Americans can continue to enjoy these beautiful landscapes, which is why I’m grateful to Representative Kilmer for his leadership on this important issue.” – Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO)

“I applaud the House Natural Resources Committee for passing a bipartisan solution to fixing our Parks. I have been working on this issue for several years now and I applaud Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Bishop, and Representative Kilmer for helping to move a bill out of committee. I hope we will have a chance to vote in this legislation on the House floor. With Yellowstone in our backyard, and the busy summer season upon us, we in Idaho know that our National Parks deserve our attention.” – Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID)

“Acadia National Park in my home state of Maine is one of our nation’s most treasured gems. Close to four million people visit each year, but the park’s popularity has created a $60 million maintenance backlog at Acadia alone. Our National Parks system was founded on a promise of conservation, and the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act is our way of upholding that promise. I’m glad my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee have held this hearing on the backlog of repairs for parks across the country. Together, we can ensure our public lands are accessible far into the future.” – Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME)

“We must ensure that our national parks and historic sites, including the eight I represent, continue to provide immeasurable cultural, environmental and economic benefits across local communities for generations to come. I am proud of the hard work my colleagues and I have put into this bipartisan bill that does exactly that,” said Hurd, co-chair of the bipartisan National Parks Caucus. “In 2018 alone national parks in Texas had a backlog of over $154 million in deferred maintenance, and over 75 percent of projects are in the 23rd District of Texas. I thank my friends on the Natural Resources Committee for recognizing the importance of reducing NPS’s deferred maintenance backlog and I look forward to seeing this bill soon on the House floor.” – Representative Will Hurd (R-TX)

“The deferred maintenance backlog at our national parks means visitors are faced with deteriorating facilities and unsafe trails, campsites, and docks. H.R. 1225 will bring in funds from federal energy development projects to address the backlog and ensure all Americans can experience our amazing parks in a safe and enjoyable manner. I’m also pleased that some revenues will go toward the construction of Indian schools – many of which are in extremely poor condition. Whether in the classroom or out in nature, our buildings, structures, and facilities must be safe and suitable for all Americans who use them.” – Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)

Background:

The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act addresses the deferred maintenance backlog by utilizing federal energy development revenue not otherwise allocated for other purposes. It also protects payments to states, GOMESA, LWCF, Reclamation Fund, and all other existing uses of onshore and offshore revenues.

Link to H.R. 1225 Bill Text HERE.

What They are Saying about H.R. 1225 Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act

“H.R. 1225 is a smart investment in our public lands, ensuring visitor access and safety, and preserving our treasured park resources. It’s time to get this legislation over the finish line.” – Marcia Argust, director of Restore America’s Parks for The Pew Charitable Trusts

“Our parks and public lands contribute to a thriving outdoor recreation economy that represents 2.2% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and $734 billion in economic output. This is why national outdoor recreation trade associations fully support the Restore our Parks and Public Lands Act and hope to see this solution to the backlog of recreation projects on our public lands passed this year. We want more Americans and international visitors enjoying all our public lands and waters have to offer and appreciate the sponsors’ dedication to this growing problem that will impede on the economic contributions, and quality of life, that our parks can provide.” – Jessica Wahl, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

“The nearly $12 billion National Park System deferred maintenance backlog jeopardizes some of our nation’s most iconic historic resources and cultural artifacts. The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act and its companion bill in the Senate have the support of over 325 members of Congress, and today’s successful markup in the House Natural Resources Committee provides a bipartisan path forward for legislation that would secure the future of important historic and cultural resources now at risk.” – Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

“In Genesis we are commanded to be caretakers of God’s creation. However, our stewardship of the most majestic parts of God’s creation, our national parks, is dismal. Currently, these national treasurers need almost $12 billion in deferred maintenance. From roads and trails to restrooms and water mains, these great displays of God’s artistry are falling apart. We applaud the leaders in Congress who are dedicated to protecting these special places and are proud to support them as they advocate for the funding to restore the grandeur to these God given wonders. A special thank you to Representatives Bishop (R-UT) and Kilmer (D-WA) who are championing the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 1225) in the House of Representatives.”

– The Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network

“Federal public lands are economic engines for many gateway counties across the country. With the deferred maintenance backlog on these lands approaching $20 billion, the visitor experience is diminished, leading to declines in tourism and the revenue that comes with it. We thank Ranking Member Bishop for sponsoring the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, and we appreciate Chairman Grijalva and the members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee for supporting this legislation. Counties call on Congress to pass this bill as soon as possible.” Matthew Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties

“The national parks are not only of great cultural and historical importance, but they also provide significant economic contributions to the regions in which they are located. In 2018, more than 318 million parks visitors spent $20.2 billion, fueling the economies of gateway communities across the country. We applaud Ranking Member Bishop and Rep. Kilmer for their leadership on the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, which is a crucial step toward establishing a dedicated source of funding to address the parks’ $12 billion maintenance backlog and ensure their viability for generations to come.”– Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association

“Less than a mile from the steps of Congress you can see the impact of deferred maintenance on our National Parks.  America’s front yard, the National Mall, has areas that are suffering from aging infrastructure, specifically the 120 year old seawall of the tidal basin which experiences daily flooding which negatively impacts our iconic cherry trees. Additionally, growing public visitation and accessibility challenges threaten the sustainability and visitor enjoyment of this national treasure.” – Catherine Townsend, president and CEO for Trust for the National Mall

“As the National Park Foundation strives to enhance the visitor experience at our national parks, we celebrate the House Committee on Natural Resources’ vote to advance the bipartisan Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, which would provide substantial investment in these treasured places. We applaud Ranking Member Rob Bishop and Representative Derek Kilmer for championing this important effort, and commend Chairman Raúl Grijalva for his commitment to addressing our parks’ deferred maintenance needs and holding today’s markup. The Foundation looks forward to the legislation’s timely consideration by the full House of Representatives to ensure our national parks thrive today and into the future.”– Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation

“National parks protect some of America’s most iconic landscapes and most important history and culture. Unfortunately, our parks’ infrastructure has been neglected for far too long. But thanks to the leadership of Representatives Rob Bishop and Derek Kilmer, and the support of park champions across the aisle, we are one step closer to ensuring America’s national parks and all they stand for are protected now, and well into the future. The momentum from this bipartisan compromise bill is promising and demonstrates the value and power our national parks have for bringing people together. NPCA will continue to work with Congress to get this bill over the finish line and deliver a long-term solution for our parks’ maintenance needs.”– Theresa Pierno, president and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association