Here’s Why Our National Parks Are Billions of Dollars in the Hole
Policy + Politics

Here’s Why Our National Parks Are Billions of Dollars in the Hole


Here’s what the National Park Service really wants for its 100th birthday this year: $11.9 billion.

That’s the total cost of deferred maintenance projects the agency has accumulated amid budget shortfalls, according to a recently released park service report. The cost of deferred maintenance is now at a record high.

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The total is $440 million higher than last year, and includes deferred projects on infrastructure, visitors centers, trails and campgrounds at almost all of the 400 parks in the system. Repairs to structures and paved roads account for nearly half of all necessary repairs.

The report shows more than $630 million worth of work has been put off at Yellowstone National Park, more than $160 million at the Statue of Liberty and nearly $280 million at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Funding for the parks in 2016 includes an extra $90 million for maintenance of non-transportation projects and an additional $28 million for transportation-related projects. Over the next five years, the budget for transportation-related maintenance will increase $8 million a year to reach $300 million in 2020

Obama’s proposed 2017 budget would boost the National Park Service’s budget by $250 million, to $3.1 billion. It would also increase the budget for Centennial Challenge projects, which pair federal money with private donations to reinvigorate the national parks.

The parks saw more than 305 million visitors last year, making it the biggest year ever. The department claims that tourists spend more than $10 in local communities for every tax dollar invested in parks.