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Bishop's Bill On National Park Restoration Passes Committee, Could Give Billions To National Parks

Carter Moore
Utah Public Radio
Rafters from Utah State University's Outdoor Programs float down the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park in March 2019. Canyonlands has a backlog of deferred maintenance projects equal to $21 million.

 219 million dollars. That’s the price, according to the National Park Service, that it would cost to address the maintenance issues that have been deferred in Utah’s 14 parks, monuments and historical sites. Thanks to a bill introduced by US congressman from Utah Rob Bishop though, these projects may finally get funded. 

“That would provide - over five years - over 6.5 billion to our parks and these high priority projects across the country and draw down half the backlog," said Rebecca Knuffke, a researcher at the Pew Charitable Trust who works on the Restore America’s Parks project. "That would be a tremendous investment and help put our parks on the right foot forward in its second century.”

The trust found over $12 billion in deferred projects, including roads, bridges and historical sites, that as more visitors come to parks, will only get worse. 

The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, introduced in February, would channel money made from the extractive energy industries, including on and offshore drilling, to the deferred maintenance backlog. The bill already has the support of 290 members of the house and 40 senators. Knuffke said that number however, will only go up.

“This support demonstrates how bipartisan our parks are and how loved they are, but they need congress’ help," she said. "We really haven’t seen opposition to the bill, folks are jumping on every day and there is still plenty of time to get those folks on board.”

The bill just left the House Natural Resources committee with 36 out of 38 representatives voting in favor. It will next be heard by the House Education and Labor Committee before going to the floor for a vote.