Senate Passes Portman’s Landmark Legislation to Protect & Preserve America’s National Parks
Bipartisan Legislation Will Rebuild National Parks Infrastructure, Protect Federal Lands & Create American Jobs
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) praised Senate passage of the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, landmark legislation he has pushed for years to protect and preserve America’s national parks. The bill will support more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years by rebuilding critical park infrastructure to help address the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS). The Restore Our Parks Act is a part of a broader package, the Great American Outdoors Act, that addresses the deferred maintenance backlog across federal land management agencies and provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Portman released the following statement:
“Passage of this legislation is a big win for Ohio and our country. It represents a landmark achievement that will help carry on Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy of protecting our national parks and public lands for generations to come. The bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act will help rebuild our national park infrastructure by helping to address the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects throughout our park system while supporting more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years. In Ohio, this means helping to address the more than $100 million in critical infrastructure improvements necessary across our eight national parks. Now, more than ever, we need our parks and our parks need us. As an avid outdoorsman, I’m glad the president has embraced this legislative effort, and I look forward to the House of Representatives passing this legislation and seeing the president sign it into law.”
NOTE: Senator Portman has long supported America’s national parks. Portman has pushed the Senate to pass the Restore Our Parks Act over the last several years. The bill, which Portman introduced with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME), will establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating half of the annual unobligated revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development on federal lands up to $1.3 billion per year for the next five 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. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act in November 2019. Last week, Portman announced that a new 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. Another recent 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.
Portman, a lifelong outdoorsman and a frequent visitor to Ohio’s national parks, has long been a leader in the U.S. Senate in efforts to protect our national parks. He is the author of the National Park Service Centennial Act, legislation signed into law in 2016 that authorizes the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund and the Second Century Endowment Fund, two public-private partnerships that will help preserve our national parks for generations to come. In 2019, Portman received the Friend of Industry Award from the Outdoor Industry Association and the Distinguished Travel Champion Award from the U.S. Travel Association for his leadership on the Restore Our Parks Act. In 2017, Portman received the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Champion Award for his work on the National Park Service Centennial Act. He has previously received the 2012 NPCA Centennial Award, the 2015 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Centennial Leader Award.