Press Releases

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS). 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 legislation has been praised by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association. 

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. That figure includes roughly $80 million of overdue maintenance at Shenandoah National Park, one of the crown jewels of our nation’s park system.

“In the last year, the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites in Virginia grew by $250 million, to over a billion dollars. Virginia now ranks third among all states in total deferred maintenance, trailing only California and the District of Columbia. The longer we wait to address the crumbling infrastructure in our national parks, the worse the problem gets. Today’s introduction marks a step forward in the process of finally fixing the $12 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks. I will continue to work with my colleagues to get this bill passed so that we can make much-needed investments in national treasures like Shenandoah National Park, which has nearly $80 million in overdue maintenance needs,” said Sen. Warner. 

“For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country,” Sen. Portman said. “But in order to keep that work going, we need to ensure that they have the right resources to maintain our national parks. This bill will create the Legacy Restoration Fund to provide the National Park Service with funds for deferred maintenance projects. This legislation will help tackle the nearly $75 million in maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national parks and will ensure the National Park Service can continue preserving American treasures like Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”

“Senators Portman and Warner deserve great credit for their leadership in developing this compromise legislation, which could do more to restore our 417 national parks than anything that has happened in the last half century. The bipartisan legislation that I developed with Senator King and other senators is now part of the Portman-Warner compromise legislation, which should have near unanimous support. The end result is $6.5 billion toward eliminating the national park maintenance backlog, $215 million of which is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Sen. Alexander.

“Our national parks amaze, astound, and awe millions of Americans each year – but in order to accommodate so many visitors, the parks need to be well-maintained,”Sen. King said. “The existing $12 billion maintenance backlog threatens to prevent future generations from accessing these beautiful public lands, which is simply unacceptable. This bipartisan legislation would help address this backlog, and ensure that parks from Acadia to Zion will remain open and available for years to come.”

“Since my confirmation hearing, I’ve been adamant that we must address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our National Parks. I’m happy to see Senators Portman, Warner, King and Alexander teamed up to craft a very strong and historic bill to rebuild our national parks,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.“Park infrastructure is about access for all Americans. In order for families, children, elderly grandparents, or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue, and I think that the bipartisan body of lawmakers who put this bill forward is proof. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Administration and Congress to see this come to fruition.” 

NPS maintains more than 75,000 assets across the country, including campgrounds, natural lands, historic trails, irrigation and electrical systems, as well as thousands of miles of roads. More than half of these are in need of repairs. In Virginia, NPS operates 34 parks, trails and battlefields and historic sites, including Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Assateague Island, Booker T. Washington National Monument, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, Colonial National Historical Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Fort Monroe National Monument, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, George Washington Birthplace National Monument, 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, and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.  

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. 

Last year, Sens. Warner and Portman introduced the National Park Service Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund that would address NPS maintenance needs. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its own proposal, which bore substantial similarities to the Warner-Portman bill. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Actby Sens. Alexander and King – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance, instead relying upon a massive expansion of offshore drilling or a significant increase in the price of oil in order to provide additional funding to the NPS. Prior to that, the Administration had pressed – unsuccessfully – to dramatically increase entrance fees at national parks as a way of funding overdue maintenance. 

The Restore Our Parks Act, introduced in the Senate late Thursday, is the result of months of negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, King, and the Trump Administration to find a consensus proposal to address the NPS backlog.   

“National parks bring people together and help bridge political party lines. Under the leadership of Senators Warner and Portman, this compromise legislation will put a significant investment into the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog needs. We commend the leadership of these two park champions for their bill that makes a strong investment in our parks that they desperately need and deserve. America’s national parks include our most treasured landscapes and historic and cultural sites that must be protected and maintained so that future generations have the opportunity to learn about the people and places that have shaped our nation’s legacy,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association

“Pew has been committed to ensuring that the best provisions of the various deferred maintenance measures are incorporated into a final proposal that can be enacted and will provide a significant reduction to the national parks backlog,” said Marcia Argust, project director for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign. “The compromise bill introduced today by Sens. Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King meets that goal.”

“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 important issue. The backlog impacts the recreation economy and Americans’ ability to explore and enjoy their public lands. As we know, and the support for bills like National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund shows, the health and vitality of America’s public lands system is a bipartisan issue that unites us. We look forward to progress on the issue and appreciate the Senate Bill Sponsors’ attention to this critical infrastructure issue that supports the growing $887 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association.


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.