National Conservation Leaders Praise Passage of Portman Legislation to Fund Maintenance Backlog at America’s National Parks

June 17, 2020 | Portman Difference

Today the Senate passed Senator Portman’s bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, which will help rebuild our national parks infrastructure by addressing the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS) and support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years. The Restore Our Parks Act is a part of a broader package, the Great American Outdoors Act -- landmark bipartisan legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog across the federal land management agencies and to provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

Portman introduced the Restore Our Parks Act with U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) and has pushed the Senate to pass the bipartisan legislation over the last several years. Portman worked with his colleagues to expand the Restore Our Parks Act to address the more than $20 billion in deferred maintenance backlog across all land management agencies in the Great American Outdoors Act. This legislation provides $1.9 billion per year for five years into the “National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund” from half of unobligated revenues from on and offshore energy development on federal lands. Recently, Portman announced that a new National Parks Service (NPS) study of the Restore Our Parks legislation found that the legislation will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years to help address the delayed maintenance backlog and rebuild our national parks infrastructure. An additional National Park Service (NPS) study showed that in 2019, visitor spending in communities near national parks resulted in a $41.7 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 340,500 jobs. 

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act in November 2019 and President Trump has voiced his support for this legislative effort. The following national conservation leaders support the legislation:  

  • “Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a remarkable achievement to advance historic bipartisan legislation supporting our national parks.  The National Park Foundation is grateful for Senator Portman’s steadfast leadership and long standing commitment to care for these special places.  GAOA will ensure that  our national parks receive the funding required to address deferred maintenance needs, that parks remain accessible to all Americans, and continue to serve as economic engines for local communities across the country,” said Will Shafroth, President & CEO of the National Park Foundation.
  • “For years, Senator Portman has urged fellow lawmakers to address our national parks’ repair backlog. Now, thanks to his leadership, Congress is one step closer to providing our parks, rangers and local communities with the support they so desperately need and deserve,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. From Yosemite to Cuyahoga Valley, our beloved parks are dealing with billions of dollars in needed repairs like crumbling roads, broken water pipes and aging visitor centers. We are grateful for Senator Portman’s unwavering support for this legislation and making the future of our national parks and America’s legacy a priority.”
  • “Senator Portman has been a champion of national parks for years, starting with the National Park Service Centennial Act and now including the Great American Outdoors Act just passed by the Senate,” said Marcia Argust, project director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Restore America’s Parks campaign. “This bill will help to ensure the preservation of our nation’s evolving history, provide for visitor safety and access, and generate jobs that are sorely needed right now. Now that the Senate has acted on the bipartisan work that Sen. Portman and others led, the House of Representatives must take the next step and quickly pass this historic legislation so it can be enacted into law.”
  • “Our entire industry is behind this — from skiers to snowmobilers, hunters to hikers, campers to RVers and climbers to motorcyclists,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “Businesses have been making calls, running sign-on campaigns and sending letters. This unity shows the amazing work that has been done by Senators Portman, Alexander, Warner, King anad many others, to get us to where we are on this once-in-a-generation legislation. In the next week, Congress has the opportunity to do something that truly outlasts their time in office and that will benefit the nation for decades to come.” 
  • “Due in large part to the ongoing pandemic, people are rediscovering the true value of our national, state, and local parks and open spaces – and how important it is to maintain them properly. As the designers and planners of these spaces, landscape architects know exactly how damaging the chronic underfunding of maintenance programs is,” said Roxanne Blackwell, Hon. ASLA, Co-Interim Executive Vice President/CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects. “ASLA has worked hard to permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog in our parks–and with the Great American Outdoors Act, we can finally accomplish both of those goals. We thank Senator Portman for his work to get it passed in the United States Senate. We fully support this critical piece of legislation and will not stop working until it finally becomes law.”
  • “Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act with overwhelming bipartisan support brings us one step closer to an historic achievement on behalf of historic and cultural resources and our public lands. This legislation is a bipartisan solution that would provide $9.5 billion in dedicated funding over five years for much needed repairs of the National Park Service and other federal agencies. Along with fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, this bill would ensure preservation of some of our nation’s most iconic historic places. We thank Senator Portman, along with Senators Warner, Alexander, King, Manchin, Gardner, Daines, Cantwell and others for their leadership on this once-in-a-generation legislative accomplishment for our public lands,” said Tom Cassidy, Vice President for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation,” said Tom Cassidy, Vice President for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  • “The Great American Outdoors Act is among the most significant pieces of legislation for our public lands in decades. The best part is that its impact will reach far beyond the borders of our parks, forests, and refuges. Investing in the improvement of our shared outdoor spaces will create jobs, boost rural economies, and generate new opportunities for Americans to experience the physical and mental benefits of time outdoors,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President & CEO of The Corps Network. “Thank you to Sen. Portman and to all who have championed this bipartisan effort. We look forward to seeing the Great American Outdoors Act advance in the House. The Corps community stands ready to help our resource management agencies address the maintenance backlog and strengthen our outdoor infrastructure for generations to come.”
  • “Our National Parks and public lands are part of our heritage as Americans. By protecting and investing in them, we will ensure that generations to come will benefit from America's best idea. The American Conservation Coalition is proud to support the Great American Outdoors Act because it will protect this heritage and support the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose livelihoods are connected to our National Parks and public lands. Our members on over 200 college campuses across the country urge Congress to pass this historic piece of legislation,” said Benji Backer, President, American Conservation Coalition.
  • “The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a truly historic conservation victory that will ensure that America’s public lands and treasured landscapes endure for future generations. It will also accelerate our economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis by creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs, while expanding outdoor recreational opportunities for every community in the country,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We are grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Cory Gardner (R-Colo), Joe Manchin (D-WVa), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to pass this legislation. We urge the House to act swiftly to pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk.” 
  • “It is time to come together, seek reconciliation, and find healing as we face the COVID-19 pandemic while once again confronting our greatest national sin—racism. For many, the best place to seek freedom, healing, and peace is amid God’s creation. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) will help to restore the majestic wonder of our national parks and public lands. The GAOA will provide the much needed resources to be better stewards of our natural resources while also creating jobs during this economically uncertain time,” said The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. “We are especially thankful for Senator Portman and his continued leadership in caring for God’s creation. We are thankful for the grace-filled bipartisan efforts that led to the successful passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. It is time to rekindle hope for all Americans, and the GAOA provides the perfect vehicle to do so. Let’s bring the GAOA to the finish line so we can start working for America’s healing, renewal, and transformation.”