National Park maintenance backlog totals $11.49 billion

Like road-trippers with balding tires, Americans are loving their national parks into disrepair.

The National Park Service released a list of maintenance projects that have been postponed and put off for years. The backlog of 2014 projects nationwide totals $11.49 billion — up nearly $200 million since 2013.

Dave Nimkin, southwest senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, says this is the worst possible time to defer routine upkeep at the national parks. The parks’ centennial is next year.

“As we approach the centennial and are looking to show off the great resources this country has,” Nimkin said, “it is profoundly disappointing where the national parks are both in terms of operating shortfall and this now apparently sustained deferred maintenance as we head into the second hundred years.”

The problem can be traced to increased visitation, which strains park resources, and decreased federal spending. Close to 300 million people ventured into the parks in 2014, breaking a record of 287.2 million set in 1987.

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