Simone Garza | February 12,2022
Funding from the Great American Outdoors Act is beginning to reduce the backlog of deferred maintenance projects in national parks.
Deferred maintenance postpones the conservation of these parks related to repairs on the property. On Wednesday, Feb. 9, an official from the Department of the Interior told senators at a hearing that 56 out of 420 parks accounts for 80 percent of the currently deferred maintenance projects.
In 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act set aside $9.5 billion dollars over five years to manage deferred maintenance projects at national parks. The Great American Outdoors Act also guarantees $900 million per year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to protect rivers, lakes, and national parks from commercial development. The fund was established in 1964.
More than 150,000 miles of streams and rivers flow through national parks in the U.S., while more than four million acres of water, including reservoirs or lakes, are also found in national parks. Visiting national parks can be beneficial to human health by improving heart health and circulation, and lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose. In 2020, the U.S. Forest Service had 168 million visitors, an increase of 18 million from the prior year. Deferred maintenance can impact visitors’ ability to experience all aspects of a given national park.
Delayed land acquisition was also mentioned by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, as the process can take anywhere between six months to three years to complete backlogged projects. National parks are also beneficial for the ecosystem, with carbon-reducing and sustainable landscapes. The parks help create clean air and water with less pollution and minimizing storm water runoff.