Poll shows strong support for keeping nat’l parks in good repair

WYOMING – New research conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that four out of five registered voters support funding for overdue repairs and maintenance at America’s National Parks.

That’s welcome news especially for Wyoming—home to not one but two of the most popular national parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton. In 2018, visitors to Wyoming sites managed by the National Park Service generated $195 million in local and state use taxes.

The Jenny Lake Visitor Center and surrounding area recently received a lot of TLC over the past 8 years by remodeling the area around the building and doing some preservation on the building itself. (Harrison Crandall, NPS)

Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, says repairs are especially important for Wyoming, where tourism and hospitality is the second largest industry.

“As Wyoming continues to grapple with our over-dependence on the energy industry and seeks to diversify our state’s revenues streams, tourism and hospitality plays a big role in that,” Brown said.

In the poll, commissioned by the The Pew Charitable Trusts, some82 percent of registered voters say they want Congress to pass legislation to address nearly 12-billion dollars in overdue repairs at national parks and monuments. Legislation that would invest up to one-point-three billion dollars per year over five years for deferred maintenance has more than 300 cosponsors in the US House, but a full vote has not yet been scheduled. The money would come from mineral royalties from public lands.

Brown added that Yellowstone, the nation’s first national park, along with Grand Teton and Devil’s Tower National Monument, are the lifeblood of surrounding communities. He adds the parks not only protect natural resources, but over 320-million annual visitors create an economic impact that tops 40-billion dollars.

“While I certainly understand the desire for Congress to talk over a responsible budget, these parks are truly economic engines across the country. I mean, they need and deserve our attention, and they need it now,” Brown urged.

Marcia Argust with The Pew Charitable Trusts noted the last time significant investments were made in national parks was over 50 years ago. She says more than two-thirds of US House members and one-third of US senators support legislation to fix parks.

“The tremendous support for legislative proposals in Congress right now, they show that it’s time for congressional leadership to take the next step, and that next step is allowing a vote on this legislation,” Argust said.

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