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June 10, 2020

King pitches bill to boost maintenance at Acadia National Park, spurring jobs

File photo King is pushing for passage of a bill that would address the maintenance backlog at national parks, including Acadia National Park in Maine.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is pushing for passage of legislation that would prioritize maintenance at national parks including Acadia National Park, boosting jobs and tourism.

King, a ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, spoke before the Senate Tuesday in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act, which includes King's Restore Our Parks Act and would address the nearly $12 billion national parks maintenance backlog.

The maintenance backlog in Acadia National Park alone is estimated to be $65 million.

 A recent study by the National Park Service found that the Restore Our Parks Act would support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years, according to a news release from King. He pointed out that Acadia generates more than $300 million a year in economic activity in the surrounding Maine communities, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is already generating economic activity in the Penobscot and Piscataquis county region.

King first introduced the Restore Our Parks Act in July 2018 with U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and Mark Warner, D-Va. The bipartisan legislation will establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development.

“Someday 100 years from now, a family will camp on a mesa in Utah, or a hillside in North Carolina, or a canyon in New Mexico, or they will hike the rocky coast of Maine,” King said in his Senate address. “They’ll play on a ball field in Kansas, and it will be because of the work that we’re going to do this week in this Congress. Our names will be long forgotten, but what we do will be benefiting this country for generations.

“Setting aside special places, setting aside opportunities for outdoors and recreation is a sacred trust, and it's one that goes back to the beginning of this country,” he said.

He said that not only is passing the legislation the right thing to do "but it also makes sense from the economy's point of view in all of our states."

The Great American Outdoors Act also includes the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, legislation cosponsored by King that would make $900 million available each year for the program for the first time without being subject to federal appropriations. This builds on the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, which permanently authorizes the LWCF, and which King also supported. It was signed into law last year.

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