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PA National Parks Need Repair

Gettysburg National Military Park needs more than $50 million worth of repairs. (Pixabay)
Gettysburg National Military Park needs more than $50 million worth of repairs. (Pixabay)
May 16, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Community groups are calling on Congress to fully fund maintenance at National Park Service sites in Pennsylvania that have backlogs of needed repairs.

For years, the National Park Service has postponed critical maintenance on sites across the country. From Point Marion south of Pittsburgh to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, there are 19 national historic sites, battlefields and parks across the state.

Chad Forcey, executive director of the Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum, said deferred maintenance has left some of the most popular tourist destinations crumbling into disrepair.

"The Gettysburg National Military Park, the site of the largest battle in American history on American soil, is behind in infrastructure repairs by a total of $55.5 million," Forcey said.

This is national Infrastructure Week, and the Restore America's Parks campaign, organized by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is urging Congress to allocate the funds needed to reduce the backlog of overdue repairs. Marcia Argust, director of the campaign, said many of the repairs that have been neglected may not be evident to park visitors but still are critical.

"There are a lot of infrastructure facilities in national parks that people wouldn't automatically think of: sewage facilities, bathrooms, waterlines that provide drinking water and electrical systems, as well," Argust said, adding that the total repair cost at National Park Service sites nationally is now about $11.6 billion.

Forcey said the parks also are a major source of revenue for local business, and making needed repairs would generate thousands of jobs. But that isn't all that's at stake.

"This has got to be resolved in order to preserve the lands for future generations," he said. "Our citizens and our children aren't going to be able to enjoy these sites if we can't fix them."

The Restore America's Parks campaign is asking policymakers to provide adequate funding for ongoing repairs, and to enact reforms to ensure that deferred maintenance doesn't escalate.

More information on the campaign is online at pewtrusts.org.

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Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA