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Committee Begins Effort to Restore Public Lands with Review of Federal Maintenance Backlog

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6, 2018 -

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held the first in a series of hearings to address the maintenance backlog of the Department of the Interior (DOI). 

Today, DOI manages more than 500 million acres of land in the U.S. and has a total of $16 billion worth of deferred maintenance, with almost half owned by the National Park Service (NPS).  

“The deferred maintenance backlog is a top priority for anyone who loves our national parks,” Vice President of Government Relations for the National Park Foundation Jason Rano stated.

Dan Puskar, Executive Director of the Public Lands Alliance, attributed an increase of visitation as a driving factor in the backlog stressing the adverse impacts on visitor experiences.  

“Whether it is a deteriorating road or bridge or a crumbling historic structure, neglected built assets on America’s public lands can have a detrimental impact on the experience of visitors,” Puskar said.

"I would like to acknowledge Chairman Bishop’s hard work," Ranking Member Raul Grijalva stated, in reference to the “National Park Service Centennial Act,” which became law (Public Law 114-289) in the 114th Congress. "This bill created new revenue streams and established new programs to leverage private investment to support our national parks. These are important tools that we should continue to support though they are not enough to buy down deferred maintenance across the entire system.”

Panelists stressed the need for additional dedicated revenue streams and management reforms to effectively tackle the backlog while also fulfilling broader statutory responsibilities of the agencies.

“We know that we cannot rely on appropriated dollars alone,” Deputy Director of the NPS Daniel Smith and Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Steve Guertin argued. “Most importantly, we are looking at a new proposal to raise funds for this purpose by dedicating a portion of federal energy revenues to address this problem.”

The President’s DOI budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2019 proposed the establishment of a Public Lands Maintenance Fund. The proposal envisions increases in revenue from federal energy leases to provide a dedicated funding source for the NPS and other targeted agencies.

“Today we’re dealing with the problem, next we start dealing with solutions to the problem,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) stated.

Click here for additional information on today’s hearing.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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