Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS) cleared a major legislative hurdle. The Restore Our Parks Act, which is cosponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on a bipartisan 19-4 vote. The consensus proposal is the product of bipartisan discussions among the senators who had previously introduced bills to address the Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog. The bipartisan bill, which will now be referred to the full Senate, is supported by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Outdoor Industry Association, and dozens of additional conservation and recreation organizations. 

“For over a year, I’ve led bipartisan efforts in the Senate to address the state of disrepair of critical infrastructure in the National Park System. It’s alarming the rate at which the maintenance backlog at the Park Service continues to grow, with Virginia adding $250 million in the last year, surpassing a billion dollars and ranking third among all states in total deferred maintenance,” said Sen. Warner. “We can no longer wait to fix the $12 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks and ignore the long-term effects of allowing these national treasures to simply crumble. I’m very pleased that the bipartisan, consensus bill we introduced earlier this year has now cleared this important hurdle and look forward to working with my colleagues from across the aisle and the Administration to make sure it becomes law.” 

“Today’s committee approval is good news and an important step forward in our efforts to address the long-delayed maintenance projects at our national parks,” Sen. Portman said.  “For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country.  But in order to keep that work going, we need to ensure that they have sufficient resources to maintain our national parks. This bipartisan legislation will help tackle the more than $100 million maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national park sites. I’d like to thank Senators Warner, Alexander, and King as well as the cosponsors of this legislation for their leadership on this issue and urge my colleagues to support it when it comes to the floor.”

“Rebuilding National Parks infrastructure has been at the top of my priority list since before I was even sworn in to office. I'm happy to see the Restore our Parks Act pass with such strong bipartisan support. We have 417 national parks across the country, unfortunately we also have a $12 billion backlog in maintenance needs spanning everything from roads and bridges to visitors centers and restrooms. Thanks to Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King national parks are one step closer to getting the vital funding they need to rebuild the aging infrastructure,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

The importance of preserving our history, culture and public lands is something we can all agree on,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association. “Tackling the deferred maintenance in our national parks is not a political issue but an American one, and all who are supporting this important legislation recognize that. We commend the dedication and leadership of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for working to push this important bill through congress, and making a strong investment in our national parks.”

"Key committees in the Senate and House of Representatives have given their bipartisan stamp of approval to legislation to fix our aging and deteriorating national parks,” said Marcia Argust, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks. “With strong bipartisan support for our parks not only on Capitol Hill but in communities across the nation, Congress should act now to get the legislation over the finish line this year.”

“OIA applauds this bipartisan effort to solve the National Park Service backlog issue and appreciates the dedication of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King to this effort,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “The backlog impacts the recreation economy and Americans’ ability to explore and enjoy their public lands. As we know, and passage of bills like the Restore Our Parks Act out of committee shows, the health and vitality of America’s public lands system is a bipartisan issue that unites us. We look forward to continued progress and appreciate the Senate bill Sponsors’ focus on the critical infrastructure that supports the growing $887 billion outdoor recreation economy.”

“Our nation’s parks can be key economic engines for many gateway counties across the country,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “With National Park Service infrastructure in need of repair, the visitor experience is diminished, and surrounding communities see declines in tourism. We thank Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for sponsoring the Restore Our Parks Act. Counties urge action on this legislation to strengthen our national parks, support conservation and cultivate outdoor experiences that are second to none.” 

Due to years of chronic underfunding, NPS has deferred maintenance for a year or more on visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds in Virginia, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as Blue Ridge and George Washington Memorial Parkways. In the last year, the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites in Virginia grew by $250 million, to over a billion dollars and the Commonwealth now ranks third among all states in total deferred maintenance, trailing only California and the District of Columbia. That figure includes roughly $80 million of overdue maintenance at Shenandoah National Park, one of the crown jewels of our nation’s park system.  

Over the past decade, Congressional financial support for park maintenance has decreased by 40 percent, and the last time Congress directly addressed the infrastructure needs of the park system was in 1956. The Restore Our Parks Act would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, providing up to $6.5 billion over the next five years specifically to address deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service. 

Virginia contains 22 national parks and affiliated areas that are spread throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Park Service maintains over 120 National Historic Landmarks throughout Virginia, including Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, and the State Capitol Building. In 2017, over 24 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending over $1 billion. National parks in Virginia helped support more than 15,000 jobs and contributed over $1.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy.  

A list of Virginia organizations supportive of addressing the NPS backlog can be found here


Full text of the bill can be found here.


VA National Park Deferred Maintenance as of 2017*


Appomattox Court House National Historical Park


Assateague Island NS


Blue Ridge Parkway


Booker T Washington National Monument


Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP


Colonial National Historical Park


Cumberland Gap National Historical Park


Fort Monroe National Monument


Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefields Mem NMP


George Washington Birthplace National Monument


George Washington Memorial Parkway


Harpers Ferry National Historical Park


Maggie L Walker National Historic Site


Manassas National Battlefield Park


Petersburg National Battlefield


Prince William Forest Park


Richmond National Battlefield Park


Shenandoah National Park


Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts




*Due to the continuously changing nature of facilities data, only final, year-end data is reported by the National Park Service. The last year for which data is available is FY 2017.