Nearly $675 Million Spent On Deferred Park Maintenance, Yet Backlog Still Nearly $12 Billion

Proof of the challenge the National Park Service faces in trying to catch up with deferred maintenance across the National Park System can be found in the agency’s latest report on the matter: Nearly $700 million was spent during Fiscal 2018 on maintenance projects, yet the backlog still is nearly $12 billion.

Congress had a chance last year to give the Park Service a big lift by passing legislation that would have provided $6.5 billion over five years specifically for maintenance needs. But the measure died near the end of the 115th Congress as the politicians found themselves at budgetary loggerheads with President Trump. The legislation has been introduced again to the 116th Congress, but has yet to move.

“It’s great to see the National Park Service making progress on some key repair projects. At the same time, the agency’s maintenance backlog continues to grow because the number and cost of repairs compounds each year,” pointed out Marcia Argust, who manages The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Restore America’s Parks initiative.

How bad are things? Even though the Park Service spent more than $671 million in repair work during Fiscal 2018, the backlog still grew, from $11.6 billion at the end of FY17 to $11.9 billion a year later, an increase of 2.7 percent. Aging facilities, increased visitation, and resource constraints have kept the maintenance backlog between $11 billion and $12 billion since 2010, the Park Service noted.

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