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King’s Bipartisan Push to Address National Parks Backlog and Fund LWCF Gains Momentum

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of senators to urge passage of a legislative package that would enact Senator King’s bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act and would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). He is one of the lead sponsors of the Restore Our Parks Act, and has championed the effort with Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) since the group first introduced the legislation in July 2018. Senator King strongly supported the LWCF’s permanent reauthorization as part of the public lands package in March 2019, and in June 2019 called for the program to be permanently funded.

“I am thrilled my colleagues have come together for this bipartisan effort to address the $12 billion backlog at our national parks and support permanent funding for the vital work of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Senator King. “The National Park System is an American treasure, and we have a responsibility to preserve it for our children. We’ve come up short on this responsibility for far too long – but we have a chance to make this right and ensure that every park from Acadia to Zion will endure for the generations of Americans who come after us. In addition, this legislation would permanently fund the LWCF, which has supported outdoor recreation and conservation in communities across the nation for more than half a century. These efforts transcend politics – they’re about the future of natural wonders that were here before us and should remain long after we’re gone. We must all come together to make these investments to protect our public lands.”

The Restore Our Parks Act is led by Senators King, Portman, Warner, and Alexander, and is supported by a bipartisan group of 52 Senators and the Interior Department. The legislation would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years. This consensus legislation was passed on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November, praised by witnesses at a Subcommittee on National Parks hearing in July 2018, and has the support of key Administration officials, including the Interior Secretary. In September 2018, Senator King joined Acting NPS Director Dan Smith on a tour of Acadia National Park to assess the park’s critical maintenance need; the backlog at Acadia alone is estimated to be approximately $60 million.

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