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  • National Parks Bill To Bring 100,000 Jobs

    Friday, June 05, 2020

    A bill expected to be voted on in the Senate as early as next week would not only address backlogged maintenance projects for the National Park Service, but support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years.

    Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., along with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Angus King, I-Maine, announced Thursday a new National Park Service study found that the Restore Our Parks Act would support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,000 direct and indirect jobs to address the more than $12 billion in maintenance projects.

    Sally Hurlbert, management specialist with Shenandoah National Park, said in a previous interview with the Daily News-Record that any uncompleted maintenance projects are considered deferred maintenance.

     

    Shenandoah National Park alone had $88 million during fiscal year 2017-18, making up the majority of Virginia’s $1.1 billion in maintenance backlogs.

    From fiscal 2017-18, deferred maintenance at SNP increased by $9.5 million, the fourth largest backlog increase in Virginia after the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Colonial National Historical Park, according to Valeria Rivadeneira, deputy press secretary for Warner.

    Hurlbert said Friday the deferred maintenance numbers for fiscal year 2019 won’t be available until October.

    Nelly Decker, with Warner’s office, said the National Park Service does not have any information relating to how many jobs would be brought to Shenandoah National Park.

    Warner’s legislation is bipartisan and would establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund, which would come from 50% of all revenue not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

    The bill is also included in the Great American outdoors Act, which would provide $6.5 billion over five years to go toward deferred maintenance.

    “For years, Congress has critically underfunded our national parks resulting in the buildup of $12 billion in deferred maintenance costs,” Warner said in a press release. “Despite receiving more than 318 million visitors annually, our national parks have been unable to maintain upkeep and repairs on visitor centers, rest stops, trails, campgrounds and transportation infrastructure operated by the Park Service.”

    Warner said by addressing the needs that would not only preserve “America’s story,” it would also help support communities across the country that rely on the economic activity generated by the National Parks Service.

    “In the Commonwealth alone, our national parks support more than 16,000 jobs and contribute $953 million dollars in value added to our economy,” he said. “I’ve been calling on Congress for years to make these much-needed investments and it’s time we get it done.”

    Hurlbert said some of the deferred maintenance projects Shenandoah National Park is hoping to accomplish this year include rehabilitating the Dickey Ridge sewer system, repaving 17 miles of Skyline Drive and several overlooks and repairing two housing units.

    Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica


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