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PNS Daily Newscast - December 14, 2018 


The Senate votes to withdraw funding for the Saudi war in Yemen. Also on the Friday rundown: the Global Climate Conference reinforces the need for grassroots movements; and could this be the most wasteful time of year?

Daily Newscasts

With Billions in Repairs Needed, Congress Looks to Invest in National Parks

The Grand Canyon brought in $667 million in visitor spending in 2017, but facilities at the park are in need of repairs and maintenance. (Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr)
The Grand Canyon brought in $667 million in visitor spending in 2017, but facilities at the park are in need of repairs and maintenance. (Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr)
October 1, 2018

PHOENIX — National park sites in Arizona and across the U.S. are more than $11 billion behind in maintenance needs - but Congress may take action to address the issue this week.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is set to meet Tuesday to discuss a proposed fix to the repair backlog for the National Park Service. Marcia Argust, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Restore America's Parks Campaign, said Congress hasn't made a major investment to upgrade the parks in more than 50 years. But the Restore Our Parks Act, being considered by the Senate, would provide up to $6.5 billion over five years for maintenance.

"In a very polarized climate on Capitol Hill, this strong bipartisan support for this legislation will benefit park resources, protect recreation access, and continue to promote local economies that depend on park visitation,” Argust said.

Arizona's iconic national park sites - including Saguaro and the Grand Canyon - are major contributors to the state's economy, but are nearly $600 million behind in repairs. Argust said the trails, campgrounds and other visitor amenities that need updating are affecting visitors' safety as well as their park experiences.

She pointed out that Arizona sees some of the highest national park visitor spending of any state.

"In Arizona, where Senator Flake is a member of the Senate committee that's taking up the Restore Our Parks Act, park visitors contributed over $1 billion in direct spending to local communities last year,” Argust observed; “and parks generated over 17,000 jobs."

The Restore Our Parks Act proposes to pay for repairs with royalties from energy projects on federal lands. If the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approves the bill, it would still need approval from the full House and Senate.

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

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - AZ