WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — For years, lawmakers have worked to protect and fix national parks around the country.
Now, thanks to a collaborative effort between Republicans and Democrats, that may become a reality.
“This needs to be done for my children and grandchildren,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said.
Manchin and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner are fighting to protect and preserve the country’s national parks through the Great American Outdoors Act.
“This is a win-win. I don’t often agree with the administration, but this is one where the administration’s been working with us and I think we should get an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” Warner said.
The $12-billion bill will fund maintenance and repair long-neglected park facilities.
“Filthy, dirty, maps are falling off the walls, lights weren’t working and I said ‘This is what our landmark is? As who we are and identify as a nation?” Manchin said.
“We have not done enough to maintain those facilities. There’s bad roads, there’s broken trails, guest centers are in decay,” Warner said.
President Donald Trump says he supports the bill. Lawmakers and advocates see this as a big win, but getting the parks back in shape will take time.
“There are over 400 national park sites nationwide and over half of the assets that the park service maintains need repairs,” Restore America’s Parks Project Director Marcia Argust said.
Argust says Congress’ last large investment in the parks system was in the 1950s and the new bill will make a huge difference.
“It’s important to make sure that its resources are maintained so visitors are safe, they can still access our parks, and if we don’t do that, the local economies that depend on park visitors are gonna suffer,” Argust said.
The money will come from energy production on federal lands instead of taxpayers.