For years I have enjoyed our national parks: hiking, camping, exploring and sightseeing. In southern Wisconsin, we are blessed by our proximity to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, just one of four national park sites in our state.
Unfortunately, national parks across the country, like those in Wisconsin, are in disrepair. In our state, the need is $8.7 million to fix crumbling roads, outdated electrical systems and deteriorating monuments. Maintenance matters because it affects visitor accessibility, tourism revenue and park preservation.
Fixing our parks not only makes them more accessible, though, it creates jobs. According to a recent study commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 110,000 jobs would be created or supported if we took care of the maintenance needs in all or our national parks!
The good news is that a bill—the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, HR 6510—has been introduced in Congress with bipartisan support and 227 cosponsors. It would create a dedicated fund for five years to pare down a nationwide $11.6 billion park maintenance backlog.
Our national parks preserve our history, honor our veterans, boost our local economy and provide a place of recreation for millions of visitors each year. We need Rep. Paul Ryan in both his role as House speaker and as a neighbor to the Ice Age Trail to step up now and call for passage of this legislation. Our parks are depending on it.