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FL Leaders Meet at Timucuan to Urge Funding For National Park Repairs

Florida's national parks face a $262 million backlog of deferred maintenance. (Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve/National Park Service)
Florida's national parks face a $262 million backlog of deferred maintenance. (Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve/National Park Service)
May 4, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida's many beautiful parks provide tourist attractions and boost the state's economy. But the state's 11 National Park Service sites needs more than $260 million in repairs.

Friday Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., national park advocates, and local leaders will meet at Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve in Jacksonville to focus attention on the repair needs including at sites around the nation seeking reliable funding from programs such as the National Park Legacy Act.

Marcia Argust, project director for Pew Charitable Trusts' Restore America's Parks Campaign, says funding would provide more than just repairs to the sites.

"It would generate over 110,000 jobs nationwide,” says Argust. “In fact, that would lead to an additional 2,457 jobs in Florida alone."

The Timucuan Preserve is in need of a $3.8 million repair that would mainly go to the Kingsley Plantation, an area where more than 60 slaves worked on the land more than 150 years ago.

The $262 million needed for Florida parks is just a fraction of the $11.6 billion needed nationwide at these sites.

The economic benefits show that repairs could provide more in the long run. According to the National Park Service, in 2017, more than 10 million people visited Florida's National Park Service sites, generating more than $600 million in economic benefits to their surrounding communities.

John Adornato, deputy vice president for regional operations for the National Parks Conservation Association, says talks on Capitol Hill have been very encouraging.

"There's acknowledgment that the Park Service needs these funds,” says Adornato. “The park service is where Americans go for their recreation, for their learning and education, and just to have fun."

Rutherford is one of 10 members of Florida's congressional delegation co-sponsoring the National Park Service Legacy Act. Overall, the act has the support of more than 70 members.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL