National Park Week wraps up with plea for more funding

Some of the most scenic parts of D.C. like the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial are also some of the spots needing repairs and maintenance. And what’s happening there isn’t unique to the national parks scattered around the rest of the country.

As National Park Week wraps up, advocates are trying to raise awareness of the $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repairs that parks around the country are facing. Some of those projects also include some of the most-used roads.

“Everything is not OK,” said Marcia Argust, the project director at Pew Charitable Trust.

Argust said 300 million people visit national parks every year “and there’s just not enough annual funding for the park service to keep pace.”

She said facilities in places like Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry are in need of repairs too.

“We’re talking about things like dilapidated buildings, crumbling roads, eroding trails, disintegrating memorials and battlefields,” said Argust. “The priority needs [nationwide] currently a total almost $6 billion so there is a bipartisan bill that has been introduced [to congress] … and that would dedicate $6.5 billion over five-years to address priority repairs.”

She said about a third of the House and Senate each back the plan right now, as does the president.

“The National Mall area alone has over $650 million worth of [needed] repairs,” she said.

While some projects like the work being done at the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial have been boosted by private donations, she said that well isn’t deep enough for everything that needs done.

“We need that significant congressional investment,” said Argust. “We can’t always be dependent on philanthropy, and people don’t necessarily want to invest in sewage systems and roads.”

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