Federal Funds Flow into National Parks

The Park Service's deferred maintenance and repair backlog is $21.8 billion.   March 10, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

The United States’ National Parks are crumbling. As is the case with the nation’s K-12 public schools, many federal government facilities and other buildings that rely on taxpayers to fund ongoing repairs and maintenance, the national parks have racked up massive backlogs of overdue facility and infrastructure repairs. 

The Park Service's deferred maintenance and repair backlog is $21.8 billion, including $7.1 billion needed for buildings, $5.2 billion for paved roads, and $1.3 billion for water systems, according to National Parks Traveler

Fortunately, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) enacted in 2022 established the Legacy Restoration Fund to address overdue maintenance needs at four federal agencies, including the National Park Service. The agency will receive $6.5 billion over five years for deferred maintenance and repairs -– the estimate of how much it costs to repair and restore deteriorating assets to an acceptable and safe condition. 

Since its enactment, parks across the country are receiving a funding infusion: 

  • Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Mass is receiving $27 million to address maintenance needs for buildings, structures, signage and monuments The work is expected to continue through 2025, the 250th anniversary year of the opening battle of the American Revolution. 
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California is getting $35 million to repair and seismically strengthen the concrete wharf on Alcatraz Island. About $8 million is going to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Texas to rehabilitate the historic Texas White House Complex. 
  • The Park Service provided almost $20 million to rehabilitate water, wastewater and electrical distribution systems within Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. 
  • Yellowstone National Park is replacing the deteriorating Lewis Bridge, built in 1960, and the Yellowstone River Bridge. In addition, 22 miles of the 30-foot-wide Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Road will be repaved.  

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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