By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed SEMA-supported legislation that would dedicate much-needed funding to address the more than $16 billion maintenance backlog on America’s public lands. The “Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act” would create a national park service and public lands fund for Fiscal Years 2020 through 2024, using unallocated revenue from energy produced on federal government-owned lands and waters. The amount of money that could be allocated to the fund would be capped at $1.3 billion annually during the five-year program.
The bill is also strongly supported by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), which is comprised of 27 top industry associations, including SEMA, representing off-roading, camping, fishing, boating, hiking, archery and other sports. This legislation recognizes the significant economic contributions that the outdoor recreation industry generates ($887 billion per year in economic activity and provides an estimated 7.6 million direct jobs) and is consistent with ORR’s efforts to support rebuilding and expanding the nation’s recreation-related infrastructure. The “Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act” now goes to the House floor for consideration.
The deferred maintenance backlog has received considerable attention recently, as Vice President Pence and U.S. Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt recently traveled to Yellowstone National Park to discuss the matter. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing last week on a bill to address the maintenance backlog on National Park Service lands. Jessica Wall, executive director of ORR, testified in support of the bill.
“Visitation to our public lands and waters has continued to increase. However, insufficient appropriations have contributed to a growing deferred maintenance backlog, negatively impacting visitor experiences and affecting the local communities that rely on them,” said Wall. “When domestic and international visitors recreate on our public lands, they should be awed by the natural beauty of the great outdoors, not disappointed with the recreation infrastructure that supports runners, hikers, bikers, climbers, anglers, paddlers, campers, boaters, RV'ers, snowmobilers, off-road vehicle users and more.”
For more information, contact Eric Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org.