WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced bipartisan and bicameral legislation to address the maintenance backlog at our national parks. The National Park Restoration Act will help restore and rebuild roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails and water systems in New Mexico’s 15 national parks, improving facilities for the more than 1.7 million yearly visitors to the parks.
“From the ancient wonders in Chaco Culture National Historical Park and caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, our national parks in New Mexico offer endless opportunities to explore our nation's natural and historical treasures and fuel our thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Senator Heinrich. “This legislation will address the maintenance backlog and invest in our Park Service infrastructure to ensure our national parks are safe and accessible to the millions of visitors from near and far who pass through their gates each year.”
The National Park Restoration Act will help address the over $11 billion maintenance backlog at national parks across the country. National Parks are a major economic driver in New Mexico, drawing millions of visitors and generating over $100 million in economic activity.
The backlog of infrastructure projects at our national parks can limit access and impair visitor experiences and recreation opportunities, and without additional funding, the backlog could continue to grow. The National Park Service (NPS) maintenance backlog is nearly four times what NPS receives in annual appropriations. In New Mexico, the backlog totals more than $123 million, more than a third of which is a result of ongoing maintenance and reconstruction of the elevators at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. When the elevators were unavailable to the public, access to the caves was significantly limited for families with children and visitors with limited mobility.
Joining Senator Heinrich as cosponsors are a bipartisan group of legislators including, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).