Long Overdue Funding to Restore Our Parks and Public Lands

Washington, DC — Today, the House Natural Resources Committee will vote on two pieces of legislation that are critical to health and vitality of our public lands and to our outdoor recreation economy. The “Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act” will begin to address the $19 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects at national parks and other public lands by creating a $6.5 billion dollar fund, to be administered over five years.

“Funding deferred maintenance projects for our beloved parks and public lands is long over-due. Every year more than 500 million people visit our public lands to hike, kayak, camp, bird watch and much more,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “Crumbling roads and boardwalks, overgrown trails and deteriorating education centers pose safety threats and could ultimately prevent America’s families from being able to enjoy our spectacular parks, cultural treasures and wildlife heritage.”

Outdoor recreation accounts for $412 billion of the U.S. economy every year, contributing more than oil, gas and mining industries combined. A majority of that outdoor recreation happens on public lands.

In addition to the deferred maintenance funding bill, the House Natural Resources Committee will vote on the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act which would conserve nearly 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, including 80,000 acres for new recreation and conservation management areas. The bill would also prohibit oil and gas development in areas that are important to ranchers and sportsmen.

“With more and more people moving to Colorado every year to enjoy our beautiful lands, rivers and thriving wildlife, we have to be forward thinking to retain the integrity of our highest quality lands. The CORE Act ensures that we wisely conserve these places in the face of increased demand,” said Aaron Kindle, senior manager of western sporting campaigns for the National Wildlife Federation. “To keep wild healthy populations of mule deer, elk, and to conserve some of the few remaining populations of cutthroat trout, Colorado’s only native trout, we need the highest level protections for these uniquely Colorado lands. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect important wilderness areas, watersheds, our sporting traditions, and the qualities that make Colorado so special.”

In the last five years, Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy has nearly doubled to $62 billion annually, supporting a half million jobs across the state.

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