Ohio Conservation Leaders Praise Bipartisan Legislation to Fund Maintenance Backlog on Federal Lands

March 12, 2020 | Press Releases

This week, Senators Portman, Gardner, Manchin, Daines, Warner, Alexander, and King introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark legislation to address the more than $18 billion in deferred maintenance backlog across all federal lands and provide mandatory and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Notably, the legislation includes Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King’s Restore Our Parks Act, legislation to help address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS) by establishing the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund, funded by half of the existing unobligated revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development up to $1.3 billion for the next five years. Portman worked with his colleagues to expand his legislation to also include funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education. The Great American Outdoors Act now provides $1.9 billion per year for five years into the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund from half of unobligated on and offshore energy revenues to address maintenance needs on all federal lands. 

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 Ohio conservation leaders support the legislation: 

Deb Yandala, CEO of Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park: “America’s public lands are precious and deserve our protection.  I am grateful to Senator Portman for his leadership of the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation which will provide support for addressing deferred maintenance and protection of land and water resources. Cuyahoga Valley National Park has benefitted greatly from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and we are enthused about securing ongoing funding for it.  Support for deferred maintenance is critical for public safety and enjoyment of our park.  This legislation promises to make a significant difference for our public lands for years to come.”

Hope Taft, former First Lady of Ohio: “The deferred maintenance of our national parks has just about reached the shameful stage.  How can a country be considered  'great' if its historic sites are not maintained?  How can we convey pride in our country and history if the facilities that tell the story are not in good condition? That’s why I’m pleased by Senator Portman’s continued leadership to protect our national park sites and lands so that Americans of all ages can continue to delight in their treasures. It is wonderful that Great American Outdoors Act includes his Restore Our Parks Act to address the maintenance needs at our national park sites and will also cover deferred maintenance for sites in the land and water conservation fund so that our natural and historic heritage can be  properly protected for future generations.”

Carol Gibbs, Vice President, Friends of Taft Legacy: “Thank you Senator Portman for introducing bipartisan legislation, the Great American Outdoors Act, which includes your Restore Our Parks Act to help tackle the multi-billion maintenance backlog plaguing the National Park Service. This legislation would help address the $2 million in maintenance backlog for the William Howard Taft National Park in Cincinnati.  Your continued leadership will ensure that future generations can see and appreciate our rich natural history, and to learn more about the people and lands that have shaped us as a nation.”

Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of Orville and Wilbur Wright:  “The National Parks are one of the most precious gems of our democracy, enjoyed by millions of families and international visitors every year. They represent the “heart” of America and merit the best tender loving care our nation can provide. Senator Portman and his colleagues have given thoughtful consideration as to how we can address the mounting backlog of maintenance these beautiful natural, cultural, and historic places deserve. I applaud their stewardship of the truest of American treasures.”

Melody Young, Executive Director of the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau: “On behalf of the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau, I am writing today to applaud the effort of the Great American Outdoors Act to address the much-needed funding to ensure that parks are maintained and accessible to all visitors. I would like to thank the Senators that supported this legislation. For Ross County alone, addressing the backlog of maintenance to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park will make a huge impact as efforts continue to move forward with the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks World Heritage nomination. It is imperative that our Parks be ready, safe and preserved to serve current and future generations. The economic impact of these improvements will be significant to many communities, such as communities in Ross County and Chillicothe. By combining S. 500, the Restore Our Parks Act with S. 1081 to provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund this creates the positive momentum and security of preservation that is needed. This will assist to ensure that our Parks are well maintained and can be used for the health and wellness of not only visitors but our citizens as well. Again, thank you Senators for taking the needed maintenance of our parks seriously and your support of the Great Americans Outdoors Act.”

Mark Stahl, President of the Ottawa Board of Commissioner: “The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners support the Great American Outdoors Act which will provide needed funding to address maintenance issues at our national parks.  Ottawa County is home to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island.  The 352 feet column, better known as Perry’s Monument, is just 5 miles from the border of Canada.  The monument celebrates the long-lasting peace among Great Britain, Canada and the United States of America.  The Ottawa County Commissioners have made several visits to the memorial and are aware of the maintenance that is needed for the foundation of the monument and to address the shoreline erosion due to the high water levels of the Great Lakes.  Thank you to Senator Portman and the bipartisan support to provide much needed funding to our national treasures.”

Peter Huston, Executive Director Put-In-Bay Chamber of Commerce: “Iconic Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial is our region's most recognizable historic structure and daily reminder of The Battle of Lake Erie. September 10th was a day that hundreds of American sailors and marines gave their lives for freedom. It was a battle that forever changed the course of American history, westward expansion and is a continuing symbol of international peace with Great Britain and Canada. The National Park Service has struggled to keep this beautiful park and 352 foot tall monument on South Bass Island operational. This critical funding bill can provide much needed dollars for deferred maintenance in an ever tightening national budget.”

Mackensie Wittmer, Executive Director of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance:The Great American Outdoors Act will address the deferred maintenance backlogs at Department of the Interior land management agencies like the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, and the Act will establish permanent funding for the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a critical program that safeguards our nation’s natural areas and cultural heritage assets. By providing dedicated funding to address maintenance issues, this Act will enable the National Park Service to provide the public a consistent and meaningful visitor experience in Dayton, Ohio, and across the country. Furthermore, LWCF has had a tremendous impact in the National Aviation Heritage Area (West Central Ohio) - from the preservation of the Wright brothers’ first airplane factory to the neighborhood public park and ball field. I commend Senator Portman and his colleagues for their bipartisan leadership on this legislation.