Call it scenery stimulus. America’s national parks are getting more than $900 million in funding in the recently passed stimulus bill, a much-needed shot in the arm for a system that has been underfunded for years. The money will be spent on a host of projects including maintaining trails, fixing roads, cleaning up old mine sites, constructing new facilities, and doing “energy efficient retrofits of existing facilities.”
The almost-a-billion amount hammered out in the Senate is quite a bit less than the $2.25 billion originally approved by the House, and far short of what is needed in the eyes of the National Parks Conservation Association, which says the parks have amassed a $9 billion backlog of maintenance and preservation projects.
Still, NPCA President Tom Kiernan welcomed the “reinvestment” in the “crumbling national park infrastructure” in a statement. “This is a very strong step toward restoring our national parks by 2016, the centennial of the National Park Service,” he said.
Parks aren’t the only outdoorsy beneficiaries of the stimulus package, whose details are being parsed by bloggers. Bill Schneider at New West describes the fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects in the bill. Greg Peters at EnviroWonk asks the broader question “The Stimulus: What’s In It for Enviros?” And Ned Hudson at The Daily Green takes a historical view of public works projects in “Why Investing in Parks Is Smart Economic Stimulus.”
Image of Lake McDonald courtesy of Glacier National Park.