Warner Meets With Blue Ridge Parkway Leadership, Calls for Action to Repair Crumbling National Park Properties
Mar 15 2019
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent J.D. Lee at Warner’s office in Washington, D.C.
In the meeting, Sen. Warner emphasized the need to pass the Restore Our Parks Act – bipartisan legislation to address the maintenance backlog at national parks across the country. New numbers from the National Park Service (NPS) show that the national backlog of deferred maintenance needs grew by more than $313 million last year – with a $100 million increase in Virginia alone. Deferred maintenance on the Blue Ridge Parkway increased by more than $46 million in 2018, bringing the total for the parkway to $508,077,342, including $212,702,891 in Virginia alone. The total overall cost of backlogged maintenance projects at NPS sites nationwide now reaches $11.9 billion.
“The Blue Ridge Parkway has some of the most significant and pressing maintenance needs of any park property in Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “Kicking the can down the road on needed repairs will lead to further deterioration of the Parkway and harm the many small towns and communities whose economies depend on it. Congress needs to finally make the proper investments in our national parks by passing the Restore Our Parks Act.”
According to the National Park Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway ranks #1 in visitor spending among Park Service properties. Parkway visitor spending supports 15,300 jobs and more than $1.3 Billion in economic output. Last year, 14.6 million Americans visited the Blue Ridge Parkway and the surrounding communities.
The Restore Our Parks Act has widespread support among legislators and conservation groups. It would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore 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, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.
The latest data on Virginia’s national park deferred maintenance backlog as of 2018 is available here.