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Legislation Introduced To Let States Manage National Parks, Other Public Lands

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In a move not entirely surprising, U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has proposed legislation to create a mechanism for states to take over management of national parks and other federal lands.

It's not surprising in that a number of states -- Utah, Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, New York, and Tennessee -- stepped up last week to underwrite the costs of reopening parks in their states during the government shutdown.

As written, the legislation would require a state to put up at least 50 percent of the costs of running the national park in question to have its petition considered by the Interior secretary. If a state provided 55 percent of the costs of operation, it would receive 55 percent of the revenues that park generated. States would not be given title to the land.

States that gain such authority could relinquish it by writing the Interior secretary and asking to be relieved of its authority. The secretary also could void the agreement if the state defaults on payments or is found to have breached its agreement.

Introduced this past Tuesday, the bill has no cosponsors.

Comments

Kurt,

No doubt there are events that cause the need for repair of certain parts of the park. As your handfull of anecdotal citations notes, most of these events are fixed relatively quickly, often with substantial contributions from non-NPS sources. To translate that into a systemic poor and seriously deficient rating for 1/3 of the park trails is a major stretch, and not consistent with my experience.


ec, lots of trail damage across the park system, as others have noted. Here are some specifics:

/2013/06/update-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-trails-closed-storm-damage-hiker-injured23483

/2013/05/trails-damaged-f4-tornado-reopened-great-smoky-mountains-national-park23156

/2013/09/trail-access-rainbow-bridge-national-monument-restored24001

/2013/07/rocky-mountain-national-parks-fern-lake-trail-damaged-mudslide23640

/2013/07/man-sentenced-connection-damage-max-patch-bald-appalachian-national-scenic-trail23594

/2013/09/heavy-rains-hard-grand-canyon-national-park-trails23905

/2013/09/guadalupe-mountains-national-park-slowly-reopening-after-flood-closures23933

/2013/08/springhouse-branch-trail-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-closed-horse-use23810

/2013/09/timpanogos-cave-national-monument-joshua-tree-national-park-also-suffering-flooding-rockslides23897

/2013/04/popular-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-trails-closed-repairs23121

/2013/04/black-sand-basin-access-yellowstone-national-park-temporarily-closed-boardwalk-repairs23123

And you might recall that Friends of Acadia and Friends of the Smokies both have active trail maintenance programs in their respective parks.


In the last year, flooding has caused road damage (and trail damage) to Zion, Rocky Mountain, Joshua Tree, Assateague, Cape Hatteras, Smoky Mountain, Cape Lookout, Death Valley, Olympic, Cascades, Mount Rainer, Canyonlands, and Glacier National Parks. And those are just the major parks.To address immediate needs, such as the repairs of the parks listed above, less pressing issues are deferred. And so it goes. Every year, there are uncontrollable weather related events that cause damage. Other maintenance must be deferred to cover the cost. I don't believe it is simply a matter of "rough roads."


Approximately 36% of all trails throughout the National Park Service (6,700 miles out of a total of 18,600) are in a "poor" or "seriously deficient" condition

I believe the NPS. In my experience, this is clearly true.


Deferred maintenance of the paved roads and bridges is estimated at $4.7 billion and having a current replacement value of $20 billion.

Somehow, I think you will get less sympathy for the "parks" if half the deficit is actually rough roads. I think all this points to the fact there just might be too much infrastructure.

Approximately 36% of all trails throughout the National Park Service (6,700 miles out of a total of 18,600) are in a "poor" or "seriously deficient" condition

I have hiked several thousand miles of NPS trails and can't recall a single one I would call in "poor" or "seriously deficient" condition.


And is "drill down on those numbers" merely a poor choice of words or a more Freudian slip?

Not a poor choice at all, it is standard nomenclature for someone doing financial analysis.


Ec, I am not that much in the loop. however I do know that all facilities including those in wilderness were surveyed over a three year period, I believe 2007-2010. Actually witnessed some of the work. I believe the data for this is public information, if requested. It needs to said that park budgets are already strained, it takes personnel, xerox time and lots of paper to reproduce this stuff, but some of it maybe on line. One figure I know is that in the concession operated facilities, in particular the Ahwahnee Hotel, the hotel estimated costs for earthquake retrofit exceed 60 million (at least that is what I was told). I can understand your questioning the figures, but overall, having worked up in the park over the past 6 summers, (and 38 years previous to that with a six year break in between), the deterioration of roads, buildings, utilities, sewer lines and treatment plants, water quality treatments, etc. is in much need of upgrade or repair, big time. Much of the employee housing both for the NPS and private sector employees is quite old, some of it dating back to early 1900s, well it is disconcerting to see it. I do not mind responding EC, you ask tough questions but I think you do appreciate the parks. I am sure that some gold platting is involved, but overall I think the park efforts are above board and should be paid attention to, like much of the infrastructure deterioration we are observing nation wide, not only in parks but counties, cities, states.


From the FY14 Greenbook (pg CONST-34]

"Deferred maintenance of the paved roads and bridges is estimated at $4.7 billion and having a current replacement value of $20 billion. These assets are critical to the NPS mission and are included along with other priority assets in the NPS investment strategies. The Service owns and operates approximately 5,450 paved miles of park roads that are open to the public, the equivalent of 971 paved miles of parking areas, 4,100 miles of unpaved roads that are open to the public, 1,414 bridges, and 63 tunnels."


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