By Ian Abreu
The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that, along with other Chambers of Commerce, Business Associations, and public and private sector agencies throughout the nation, has formally endorsed the “National Park Service Legacy Act” (S.571), which establishes a fund in the U.S. Treasury to direct dedicated monies each year to draw down the National Park Service deferred maintenance backlog and helps to protect our park treasures and create jobs.
The National Park Service (NPS), which turned 100 years old last year, manages more than 400 national park units-iconic landscapes, historic and cultural sites, trails, military battlegrounds, monuments, and memorials-throughout the country.
As a result of aging facilities, strain on resources caused by increased visitation, and unreliable funding, the NPS has been unable to keep pace with park infrastructure repairs. Based on 2015 data, the agency estimates it would cost nearly $12 billion if it were to fix all of the items on its deferred maintenance list. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) has introduced bipartisan legislation, the “National Park Service Legacy Act,” which would provide dedicated annual federal funding to national park deferred maintenance needs, ensuring that parks continue to preserve our nation’s heritage and recreation opportunities, and that local communities who depend on park visitors for revenue will continue to flourish.
The National Park Service Legacy Act would:
* Establish a federal fund in the U.S. Treasury-named the “National Park Service Legacy Fund”-to draw down the national park maintenance backlog.
* The Fund would be financed using revenues from the on-shore and off-shore production of oil, gas, coal, and other mineral operations that are not already allocated by law to other programs.
* Monies would ramp up over time, based on the schedule below, to address highpriority national park deferred maintenance needs:
(1) $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020
(2) $150,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023
(3) $250,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024, 2025, and 2026
(4) $500,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2027 through 2047
* Eighty percent (80%) of the Fund would be used for the repair and rehabilitation of NPS assets including: historic structures, visitor facilities, trails, water utility systems, and assets that impact disability access, health and safety, and recreation.
* Twenty percent (20%) of the Fund would be used to restore transportation-related infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and tunnels.
*Prohibit allocated funds from being used for land acquisition or to replace discretionary funding for NPS facility operations and maintenance needs.
*Protect the authority of Congress by requiring review of proposed maintenance projects by appropriate committees.
*Promote public-private collaboration by incentivizing projects which have a private donation cost-share component.
The legislation was introduced on March 28, 2017 and was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Original co-sponsors include Sens. Portman (R-OH), Kaine (D-VA), and King (I-ME).