Entrance to Yosemite National Park Credit: TrailMob
NewsAuthor: D. Madison
WASHINGTON D.C. — The National Park Service recently estimated that our national parks are in need of roughly $12 billion in maintenance and repairs. The staggering figure represents deferred maintenance costs and represents a $440 million increase from the year prior, perhaps not surprising given 2015’s record-setting park visitation numbers.
Although a significant increase over last year’s shortfall, the NPS has been grappling with the issue for years. The funds appropriated by Congress over the years have not been enough to keep up with visitor demands and the unavoidable deterioration of park infrastructure. Congress last year approved $547 million for maintenance, and that was a $118 million increase over the year prior.
Nearly all of the nation's 409 park sites share a slice of the maintenance backlog, with Yellowstone and Gateway National Recreation Area topping the list:
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area: more than $278 million
- Gateway National Recreation Area: more than $731 million
- Blue Ridge Parkway: $516 million
- Grand Canyon: nearly $372 million
- Yosemite: more than $555 million
- Mount Rainier: more than $385 million
- Yellowstone: nearly $604 million
- Glacier: nearly $180 milion
- Great Smoky Mountains: more than $232 million
Although deferred maintenance costs have been stacking up for years (the Government Accountability Office pointed out problems with the parks' maintenance management system as early as 1984), the spike comes during the NPS centennial being celebrated this year.