A new bipartisan bill aimed at addressing the national parks maintenance backlog was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday.
Sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the bill comes just weeks after a similar bipartisan bill was announced in the U.S. Senate.
David Nimkin, Senior Regional Director of the Southwest for National Parks Conservation Association, said he appreciates the bipartisanship.
“We hope that this kind of bipartisan, thoughtful compromised approach to solving what has been one of the most challenging problems our national parks face, where over 331 million people last year visited, is a sign of things to come.”
The bill, named Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, would establish the National Park Service and Public Lands Restoration Fund where 80% of funding would go toward the National Parks and the remaining 20% would be divided amongst other federal agencies with 10% going to the Fish and Wildlife Service, 5% each to the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education.
50% of all revenues earned from a variety of energy sources on public lands and waters would go directly to the fund, as its main source of supply.
“This is a bill long long time in coming as the state of deferred maintenance backlog in our national parks stands at over 11 billion dollars. So the opportunity to make a robust and significant investment in the infrastructure of our national parks would be profound.”
According to a 2017 Congressional Research Service study, 63.1% of Utah’s land is federally owned, making it likely Utah’s public lands will receive maintenance, if the bill passes.