Rep. Cook Co-sponsors Legislation to Revitalize National Parks
WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced today that he is co-sponsoring the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act of 2018.
This bipartisan legislation establishes the National Park Service and Public Lands Restoration Fund, which would provide mandatory funding for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs that support critical infrastructure and visitor services at our national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.
Federal land management agencies are facing an extraordinary deferred maintenance backlog which is jeopardizing the safety and quality of visitors’ enjoyment of our national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. The Department of the Interior’s total deferred maintenance backlog alone currently stands at $16 billion.
The growing maintenance backlog on public lands could cause detrimental economic impacts. Our 417 national parks received over 331 million visitors last year. They also support a robust tourism economy, generating $18.2 billion for our public lands gateway communities in 2017 and supporting 306,000 jobs.
The Fund would draw from all sources of federal energy revenue, onshore and offshore, as well as alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. It may also receive private donations.
Rep. Cook’s 8th Congressional District is home to three National Parks: Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and the Mojave National Preserve. These parks have millions of dollars in deferred maintenance needs that could be addressed by this legislation.
Rep Cook said, “This crucial bipartisan legislation is essential to ensure that our national parks have the resources they need to accommodate visitors. In my district, Joshua Tree National Park set a new attendance record last year with more than 2.8 million visitors. I want to be sure that our national parks remain safe and accessible for everyone to enjoy for years to come. This legislation will help achieve this.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.