While it often seems like the US government lets environmental issues fall through the cracks, Congress has just taken a huge step toward preserving our national parks. The Great American Outdoors Act passed on Wednesday, and it will allocate $9.5 billion to national parks maintenant over the next five years, as well as $900 million per year to acquire land for conservation.
Parks are in dire need of maintenance right now. The Appalachian trail, for example, needs about $17 million to update trail conditions, while Death Valley national park requires about $129 million. At the end of the 2018 financial year, the National Park Service estimated that there was “more than $11.9 billion in backlogged maintenance and repair needs for the more than 5,690 miles of paved roads, 21,000 miles of trails, and 25,000 buildings.”
Federal agencies like the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Education will receive about 30 percent of the total funding. The rest will go to parks service projects.
President Trump agreed to back the initiative in March, and the Senate passed bipartisan legislation in June. After the approval of the Congress, the Great American Outdoors Act is going to the White House for the president’s signature.