Diane Bernard, Public News Service – MD
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Among registered voters, 82% say they want Congress to pass laws to fund a backlog of repairs for national parks and monuments, according to a new poll from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Park Service needs almost $12 billion worth of deferred maintenance across more than 400 sites, according to Marcia Argust, project director for Pew’s Restore America’s Parks campaign.
“And that covers things like trails that are eroding, historic structures that are deteriorated, monuments and memorials, but also roads that visitors use to access our parks,” she points out.
Argust says the last time the parks saw significant investment was more than 50 years ago.
Maryland has 18 national parks, roads and historic sites run by the National Park Service.
The state has a $292 million backlog of repairs needed to maintain these areas, according to former Maryland state Sen. John Astle.
Astle says some of the parks in the state were built in the 1930s and have outdated wastewater and electrical systems.
Roads and parking lots at some of the sites also need repaving, he says.
“In some places, because of the deterioration, they have to restrict visitor access to various places in the parks, which makes the experience something less than the visitors would really like,” Astle adds.
Maryland’s national parks average about 6 million visitors a year, according to the Park Service. Tourists to the sites pour about $271 million into the state annually.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.