Heinrich Leads Group Of Senators Urging Congressional Leaders To Address National Parks' Maintenance Backlog

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, led a group of senators in urging congressional leaders to include sufficient funding for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Interior, Environment, And Related Agencies appropriations bill in order to address the maintenance backlog facing our nation's National Parks.

"With a nearly $6 billion maintenance backlog attributable to the type of repair, rehabilitation and cyclic maintenance projects that receive funding through the Interior appropriations bill, it is imperative that the noteworthy increases provided last year be sustained or increased," wrote the senators in a letter last week. "It is crucial that national park facilities be kept safe and accessible so they may continue to welcome and educate the millions of American and international visitors who pass through their gates each year."

There is a nearly $6 billion non-transportation maintenance backlog at the National Park Service that has resulted from years of underfunding. Senator Heinrich has been a leading voice for reducing the maintenance backlog, including those at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and Bandelier National Monument.

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

A copy of the letter is below and available here

March 18, 2016

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Chairman
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
131 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Tom Udall
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
125 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:

As you begin drafting the fiscal year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we would request that you once again provide sufficient funding to allow the National Park Service to significantly address the backlog maintenance issue which is seriously impeding the visitor experience in our national parks.

With a nearly $6 billion maintenance backlog attributable to the type of repair, rehabilitation and cyclic maintenance projects that receive funding through the Interior appropriations bill, it is imperative that the noteworthy increases provided last year be sustained or increased.

In addition to protecting some of our nation's most awe-inspiring land and important historic sites, our National Park System serves as an important economic engine both nationally and in adjacent communities. It is crucial that national park facilities be kept safe and accessible so they may continue to welcome and educate the millions of American and international visitors who pass through their gates each year.

Thank you for your continued support of our national parks and for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,