Appalachian Trail Community Backs Maintenance Bills
BRCA partners the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club urge BRCA partners and their members to voice their support for legislation in Congress to address the deferred maintenance on federal public lands.
As reported by ATC, the Senate and the House of Representatives are currently weighing related bills designed to greatly increase the funding for deferred maintenance in National Parks.
The Senate bill (S. 500), also known as the “Restore Our Parks Act” or “ROPA,” dedicates up to $6.5 billion to NPS deferred maintenance over five years. ROPA would reallocate funds from onshore gas and coal production and offshore oil production — not taxpayer dollars — to repair the facilities, roads, shelters and trails in National Parks.
The House bill (H.R. 1225), also known as the “Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act,” is similar to the Senate bill in that it allocates $6.5 billion for deferred maintenance needs. The primary difference is that this funding would be divided among several Federal agencies: 80% to NPS, 10% to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5% to Bureau of Land Management recreation, and 5% to Bureau of Indian Education facilities.
H.R. 1225 currently has 313 cosponsors, including three Representatives from Virginia and one from West Virginia whose districts include the portion of the Blue Ridge in the BRCA focus area. They are Rep. Alex Mooney (R) WV-2, Rep. Denver Riggleman (R) VA-5, VA-6 Ben Cline (R), VA-6, and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) VA-10.
However, the current House bill does not include funding for the USDA Forest Service to meet its deferred maintenance. So, while advocates applaud the four for co-sponsoring H.R. 1225, they urge the BRCA community to ask their Representatives to add the Forest Service as a recipient of the funds to address backlogs on Forest Service lands.
Neither of these bills would divert funding from programs such as the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), creating a separate fund specifically focused on deferred maintenance needs.