Tacoma, WA – On April 2, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer applauded the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) announcement that it will invest $1.6 billion in 2021 to address critical deferred maintenance projects and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure in national parks, national wildlife refuges and recreation areas, and at Bureau of Indian Education schools.
The funding was made possible by the newly created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund established in 2020 by the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan law which Rep. Kilmer co-sponsored and voted to support. Rep. Kilmer has long advocated for solutions to address this issue – leading bipartisan legislation to fix the maintenance backlog. He previously wrote about the importance of this funding in the Seattle Times.
“Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned how important our parks and our public lands are to driving tourism, growing jobs, and supporting rural economies,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’ve been working for years to ensure the incredible natural assets in our region, including Olympic National Park, can continue to provide amazing visitor experiences and serve as economic drivers for rural communities for future generations. That’s why I worked to get the Great American Outdoors Act signed into law – and why I’m thrilled to see the Biden Administration investing in our public lands.”
“President Biden has made clear that creating new jobs and stimulating our economy is a top priority of this Administration. Through the Great American Outdoors Act, we are investing in the American people, and in the future of our public lands and sacred spaces,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “We must address the long-delayed maintenance needs of the nation’s aging buildings and infrastructure. Importantly, this funding also honors our commitment to Tribal communities by investing in Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools for current and future generations.”
The Great American Outdoors Act provides for up to $1.6 billion a year for five years to help address a multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at national parks, on other public lands, and at tribal schools.
The 165 deferred maintenance projects planned by DOI using Fiscal Year 2021 funding will improve recreation facilities, visitor centers, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools and other historic structures. Other projects aim to increase public access by restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges, and parking areas. Projects will take place in areas managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. This unprecedented investment announced today will support an estimated 18,851 jobs and contribute $2 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2021.
In addition to the Legacy Restoration Fund which will provide up to $8.1 billion over the next five years, the Great American Outdoors Act also provides for $900 million per year to be invested from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for new conversation and recreation opportunities. This will help Washingtonians enjoy safe recreational facilities, while preserving and protecting public lands. According to the LWCF Coalition, LWCF has invested over $675 million over the past five decades to protect Washington’s iconic outdoor places, open access for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities, and build parks. For example, through LWCF grants, the City of Bremerton enhanced Blueberry Park and protected seven acres of wetlands. In Port Angeles, the fund contributed to building a new playground in Shane Park.