Portman, Bipartisan Colleagues Celebrate President’s Support for Bipartisan Legislation to Save National Parks
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Tester (D-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Tom Udall (D-AZ) held a press conference announcing they have secured President Donald Trump’s support for bipartisan legislation that includes Portman’s Restore Our Parks Act to address the nearly $12 billion backlog of long-delayed maintenance projects in the national parks as well as legislation to provide mandatory and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Portman introduced the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act with Senators Warner, Alexander, and King to establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating half of the existing unobligated revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development up to $1.3 billion per year for the next five years. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act in November 2019.
A video of the press conference can be found here.
“For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country,” said Senator Portman. “But in order to keep that work going, we need to ensure that they have the necessary resources to maintain our national parks and I’m pleased the president is embracing this legislative effort led by Senators Gardner and Daines. This legislation includes the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act which I have been working on very closely with my colleagues Senators Warner, Alexander, and King. The Restore Our Parks Act will provide the National Park Service with funds to address some of the $12 billion in deferred maintenance projects like the more than $100 million in maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national parks. We must ensure our national park sites endure for future generations and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to get this legislation signed into law so that the National Park Service can continue preserving American treasures.”
“We are proud to announce that we have secured the President’s support to provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the maintenance backlog at our national parks, and the bipartisan group here today demonstrates the strong backing these programs benefit from in Congress.” said Senator Gardner. “The LWCF supports projects in Colorado and all across our country at no cost to the taxpayer, and fighting every year to figure out how much money the program will receive doesn’t provide the long-term planning certainty that our outdoor and conservation community deserves. I thank President Trump and Leader McConnell for their support and look forward to getting full, permanent funding signed into law.”
“This is a historic day for conservation, Montana and this nation. I am proud to stand here today and announce that after my meeting with President Trump, Senator Gardner and Leader McConnell, we have the support we need to provide full and mandatory funding for LWCF and address the maintenance backlog at our national parks,” said Senator Daines. “For Montanans, protecting our public lands is about protecting our way of life. That’s why I’ve made it my top priority since coming to Congress to fight for LWCF and our parks. I look forward to getting this historic conservation victory across the finish line for future generations of Montanans.”
“I started working to secure permanent funding the day after we passed permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund last year. I am excited to see there is such broad bipartisan support to secure full, permanent funding for LWCF and address the maintenance backlog across all of our national parks and treasured public lands. Every state and territory and nearly every county in our country has benefited from LWCF funding. This is an historic achievement for conservation and a testament to the strong, bipartisan work we can do when we put politics aside to do what is best for our country,” said Senator Manchin.
“This bipartisan legislation combines two bills that together make it the most important piece of conservation legislation in the last half century. It does more to help restore our parks than anything since 1964. It will cut in half the deferred maintenance backlog for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and other national parks, and it will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently, which has been a goal of Congress for 55 years. None of this would have happened without bipartisan support and none of this would have happened without President Trump’s strong support and endorsement of both bills,” said Senator Alexander.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is essential to making sure Washingtonians can enjoy our amazing public lands and urban green spaces. Our own Scoop Jackson created and championed this program over a half century ago, but over the years it has been short-changed by more than $20 billion. That’s why I am so grateful that our years of effort to get full and permanent funding for LWCF now has the bipartisan support we need to make it the law of the land. Passing this legislation and at the same time addressing the unacceptable maintenance backlog at National Parks like Olympic and Mt. Rainer will be a huge boost for the outdoor recreation economy,” said Senator Cantwell.
“After years of bipartisan work on this issue, I’m glad that the President is finally on board with our bill to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog and provide relief to national parks across the country,” said Senator Warner. “In the Commonwealth alone, this backlog surpasses $1.1 billion – third only behind California and the District of Columbia. This lack of funding represents many needed projects that have been postponed, including the upkeep of trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, and transportation infrastructure. Once passed through Congress and signed into law, this bill will signify a historic investment in Virginia’s national parks, helping to boost local economies and preserve our natural treasures so that future generations can enjoy them for years to come.”
“I am thrilled my colleagues have come together for this bipartisan effort to address the $12 billion backlog at our national parks and support permanent funding for the vital work of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Senator King. “The National Park System is an American treasure, and we have a responsibility to preserve it for our children. We’ve come up short on this responsibility for far too long – but we have a chance to make this right and ensure that every park from Acadia to Zion will endure for the generations of Americans who come after us. In addition, this legislation would permanently fund the LWCF, which has supported outdoor recreation and conservation in communities across the nation for more than half a century. These efforts transcend politics – they’re about the future of natural wonders that were here before us and should remain long after we’re gone. We must all come together to make these investments to protect our public lands.”
“Today we are taking a major step forward in our effort to fully, permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund—one of America's most successful conservation programs, and finally address the national park maintenance backlog. LWCF has helped preserve many treasured public lands—including the Valles Caldera, Ute Mountain, and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico—that power our thriving outdoor recreation economy. It also protects our drinking water, provides public land access, and ensures there are neighborhood parks, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds for our children. Our National Parks are uniquely American and offer endless opportunities to explore our nation's natural and historical treasures, and significantly boost local economies in their surrounding communities. I'm proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to address the parks maintenance backlog and invest in the infrastructure that improves access and visitor experience to all our public lands for generations to come,” said Senator Heinrich.