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Legislation to Revitalize National Parks Co-Sponsored by Congressman Paul Cook
Bipartisan legislation to establish a National Park Service and Public Lands Restoration Fund (NPSPLRF), introduced by House Natural Resources Chairman congressman Rob Bishop (R-1st District Utah), has been co-sponsored by Yucaipa’s U.S. Congressman Paul Cook (R-8th District-Apple Valley). The $5.2 billion plan is intended to start tackling the national parks’ maintenance backlog. The bill, which is matched by a similar Senate measure, was unveiled earlier this week during a rare bipartisan news conference that included the Natural Resources’ top Democrat, Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-3rd District-Tucson).
The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act of 2018 would provide mandatory funding for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs that support critical infrastructure and visitor services at U.S. national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.
The 8th Congressional District is home to three National Parks: Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and the Mojave National Preserve. These parks have millions of dollars in deferred maintenance needs that could be addressed by this legislation.
Rep. Cook said, “This crucial bipartisan legislation is essential to ensure that our national parks have the resources they need to accommodate visitors. In my district, Joshua Tree National Park set a new attendance record last year with more than 2.8 million visitors. I want to be sure that our national parks remain safe and accessible for everyone to enjoy for years to come. This legislation will help achieve this.”
The legislation would create a five-year, $6.5 billion fund to enable four Interior agencies to address backlogs of maintenance and construction projects at the nation’s parks, wildlife refuges, Native American schools and other public lands. The Department of the Interior’s total deferred maintenance backlog alone currently stands at $16 billion.
The country’s 417 national parks received over 331 million visitors last year. They also generate a robust tourism economy, generating $18.2 billion for our public lands gateway communities in 2017 and supporting 306,000 jobs. But the growing maintenance backlog on public lands could ultimately cause detrimental economic impacts.
The NPSPLRF would draw its funds from all sources of federal energy revenue, onshore and offshore, as well as alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. It may also receive private donations.
For additional information of the NPSPLRF, go to: https://naturalresources.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bishop_backlog_bill_draft_text.pdf.