This year, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. But not all is well in the national parks. The agency will enter its second century with an $11.9 billion backlog in deferred maintenance projects, an amount five times higher than its average annual appropriations from Congress.
Property and Environment Research Center’s (PERC) Public Lands Report explores several creative ideas to address the deferred maintenance backlog in national parks. These proposals are intended to expand the range of options for policymakers and park managers to consider as the nation turns its attention towards national parks in 2016. In particular, these reforms would enable parks to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on Congress for annual appropriations:
— Stop acquiring more land for the park system and start prioritizing the care and maintenance of existing lands (Shawn Regan and Reed Watson).
— Dispose of unnecessary federal lands and use revenues to address the backlog (Shawn Regan).
— Continue to allow park managers to charge recreation fees and retain the revenues for maintenance and other critical projects Holly Fretwell and Shawn Regan).
— Allow park managers to set their own fee programs without having to obtain approval from Congress (Holly Fretwell and Shawn Regan).
— Harness public-private partnerships for infrastructure needs (Leonard Gilroy).
— Outsource routine park operations to the private sector while maintaining public ownership and oversight (Holly Fretwell).
— Create a national park franchising system for new additions to the National Park System (Holly Fretwell).
Download the full report here.