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Poll: Huge Public Support for Investing In National Parks

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Supporters of Harpers Ferry say the historic Lockwood Housem a Civil War headquarters and then part of the first college for freed slaves, is slowly crumbling for lack of maintenance. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)
Supporters of Harpers Ferry say the historic Lockwood Housem a Civil War headquarters and then part of the first college for freed slaves, is slowly crumbling for lack of maintenance. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)
 By Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV, Contact
August 26, 2019

CHARLESTON, W. Va. — Americans love their national parks and want Congress to invest in maintaining them, according to a new national poll from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Marcia Argust, project director with the Restore Americas Parks campaign at Pew, said they found more than 80% of folks favor pending legislation that would fund badly needed repairs at national parks with royalties from mineral extraction on public lands.

"That's four out of five Americans – broad appeal, regardless of party affiliation, gender, ethnicity or geographic location,” Argust said. “Pretty impressive numbers."

The last major investment in the parks was 50 years ago. Argust said the 400 sites managed by the park service now have an almost $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenance.

Scot Faulkner, president of the Friends of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, said the legislation has 2-to-1 support in the House, and so far is supported by one-third of the Senate, including West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito. But, he said bill seems to have gotten "lost in the shuffle" on Capitol Hill.

Faulkner said the hundreds of millions of folks who come to the parks could use their cell-phone cameras to give the issue more urgency.

"Every time you see a trail that's got a fallen tree across it, or you have a building display a sign saying 'closed until further notice,' take a picture of it, send it in to to your member of Congress and senator, saying, 'This is in your district,' and also post that on social media,” Faulkner said.

He noted that Harpers Ferry includes buildings once occupied by historic figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Stonewall Jackson and Frederick Douglass that are actually crumbling for lack of repairs.

He said some suffer a little more with every rainstorm – and the longer they go without maintenance, the more they will cost to fix.


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

Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts - Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Consumer Issues, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Health Issues, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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