WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Long overdue maintenance projects could be moving forward soon in Texas. The state’s precious resources rely on federal dollars to keep the parks safe for visitors.
Our Washington Bureau’s Alana Austin reports on how Congress could address these urgent needs.
The enchanting mountains, rivers and deserts of Big Bend National Park attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. But all that puts serious wear and tear on the park.
“the roof isn’t falling in but it’s about to," explained Rep. Will Hurd, R/TX on overall needs in Texas National Parks.
The Lone Star state has a backlog of $167 million dollars in maintenance projects - that includes the roads, trails and visitors centers. Big Bend needs the most work, to the tune of $100 million.
GOP Texas Congressman Will Hurd wants to make the parks more enjoyable and safer.
“Our national park system is a jewel of the rest of the world and I think the reason for the backlog was because of poor decisions that were made in Washington, DC," said Hurd.
Texas is just one state facing these problems. There’s about $11 billion dollars nationwide in overdue renovations. A bipartisan bill in Congress would pool existing federal money to cover about half that backlog.
“I fear that the national parks system - it keeps getting bigger and bigger and the management is getting poorer and poorer," said Chris Edwards, Cato Institute economist.
Cato is a libertarian think tank based in Washington.
Edwards says the real problem is that the national parks system has over-extended itself, as the federal budget deficit grows.
He says the top-tier parks should remain under federal control and states or non-profits should run the others.
“I think states can much better manage a lot of the parks within their borders. Washington is not going to have the money in the future," said Edwards.
The bill just saw a committee hearing on Capitol Hill earlier this month. It still needs a vote by the full Congress but has support from the Trump administration.
Another project in our area with delayed maintenance projects, Fort Davis National Historic Site. There $2.8 million dollars are needed for overdue repairs.