The saying “loved to death” has become a popular way to refer to the NPS, which struggles to cope with their crumbling infrastructure amidst increasing visitation. Katie Lozancich Photo.
Last Wednesday, the Trump Administration announced some uplifting news for the National Park Service: $256 million of funding to go towards revitalizing park infrastructure.
The funding is a momentary reprieve for the NPS, who is currently inundated with $11 billion in backlogged maintenance. According to a press release from the Department of Interior, the money will be spread between 22 different parks and monuments.
While it might not be noticeable to all who visit the country's national parks, the roads, trails, waterways, and campgrounds at many of the parks across the United States have been in decline. Even the most minute of things—drinking fountains or bathrooms—demand some quality TLC.
The funding will address different needs for each location. For example, in Yellowstone, about $21 million will be put towards rehabbing the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel guest room wings, whereas in Yosemite roughly the same amount will be used for rehabilitating the Wawona Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The announcement follows last year’s huge visitation levels—330 million recorded across all parks. With this year expected to surpass that, making any sort of progress in regards to the upkeep is imperative for the Park Service to thrive.
"The President is a builder, he loves to build and he loves our National Parks, so it is a natural fit that the Administration is dedicating so much attention to rebuilding our aging parks infrastructure. These approved projects are more than just line items on an Excel spreadsheet,” stated Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke in a press release.
“They have a tangible effect on a person’s experience when visiting our nation’s parks," Zinke continued. "Today’s announcement is another step toward eliminating the more than $11 billion in maintenance facing the National Park Service.”
The backlogged maintenance has been one of Zinke’s most pressing problems since taking his role in 2017. While this funding will only make a small dent in the situation, it’s a step in the right direction.
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