LAS CRUCES, N.M. - 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, issued the following statement today in commemoration of the Centennial of the National Park Service:
"Our National Parks are uniquely American and offer endless opportunities to explore our nation's natural and historical treasures. They have rightly been called our nation's greatest idea.
"National parks, monuments, trails, seashores, memorials, battlefields, and historic sites allow us to reconnect with nature, learn about our history, and teach new generations what it means to be American. They also significantly boost local economies in their surrounding communities. In 2015, 1.7 million people visited New Mexico's 15 National Park Service sites, generating an estimated $119 million in economic activity.
"This centennial offers us the chance to celebrate and support the Park Service's ongoing work to protect more than 400 sites in all 50 states. I would like to thank the National Park Service employees, volunteers, and supporting organizations that make our parks such incredible places to visit. We must all recommit ourselves to the Park Service's dual mission of conserving our national treasures and providing Americans with enjoyment and inspiration. Unfortunately, Congress has allowed deferred maintenance projects in our parks to grow into a nearly $6 billion backlog. I will continue to call on Congress to reinvest in our Park Service infrastructure to ensure our national parks are safe and accessible to the millions of visitors who pass through their gates each year.
"As the National Park Service completes its first 100 years and works to protect our natural heritage for hundreds of years to come, I encourage all New Mexicans to celebrate this centennial by visiting one of the National Park sites in our own backyard. From the dunes at White Sands National Monument and caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park to the ancient wonders in Chaco Culture National Historical Park and stunning scenery in the newly designated Valles Caldera National Preserve, there are so many amazing Park Service units in New Mexico to discover."