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Time Running Out for Funding Wyoming National Park Site Repairs

In 2017, 7 million people visited national park sites in Wyoming, including Devils Tower National Monument, generating over $1 billion in spending and supporting 12,000 jobs. (Mpujals/Pxhere)
In 2017, 7 million people visited national park sites in Wyoming, including Devils Tower National Monument, generating over $1 billion in spending and supporting 12,000 jobs. (Mpujals/Pxhere)
November 19, 2018

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – National Park Service sites in Wyoming need more than $700 million in deferred repairs, with Yellowstone alone in need of nearly $500 million.

The Restore Our Parks Act would tap fees paid by oil and gas companies operating on public lands to cover just over half of the more than $11 billion national backlog.

Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition and Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, says national parks play a critical role in the visitor economy, the state's second largest industry.

"They're really the hook that draws folks to Wyoming,” he states. “Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton, Devils Tower, those are a huge draw, not just domestically, but worldwide."

National park sites in Wyoming last year received 7 million visitors, who spent more than $1 billion in local communities and generated 12,000 jobs.

Restore Our Parks legislation has cleared committee in both the U.S. House and Senate, but has not gotten a floor vote.

Marcia Argust, project director of the Restore Americas Parks Campaign for The Pew Charitable Trusts, says the bill has strong bipartisan support, but lawmakers will have to act soon as the current Congress has a limited number of business days before it adjourns for the year.

She adds over the past three years, nearly 3,000 organizations across the U.S. have urged Congress to fix the nation's parks.

"Our parks document our nation's history,” she points out. “They preserve visitor access as well as safety, and they also protect local communities that are dependent on parks for their livelihood"

More than 90 percent of respondents in a recent Pew survey said it's important to maintain trails, roads, historic buildings, campgrounds and other park infrastructure.

Over three in four said they support using fees that oil and gas companies pay to cover maintenance and repair costs at national parks.

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

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY