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Kentucky and Tennessee Need Combined $400 Million to Address Repairs at National Parks

National Park Service

National parks in Kentucky have repair bills exceeding $111 million.

That figure comes from new data published by the Restore America’s Parks Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Marcia Argust, the project’s director, said federal parks in Kentucky have a lot of needs.

“We’re talking about things like taking care of buildings, maintaining roads, trails, water and sewage systems, visitor’s centers, campgrounds, and memorials and backgrounds. Sometimes when people think about national park units, they don’t think about infrastructure, but those are the issues we’re talking about.”

Argust says most of the money needed for Kentucky parks is necessary for improvements at Mammoth Cave National Park.

The cost for deferred maintenance at parks in Tennessee stands at $290.5 million. Indiana’s price tag is $34 million.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the both the U.S. Senate and House to provide $6.5 billion dollars for repairs at National Park Service sites across the country. Argust said helping national parks appears to be one of the few bipartisan issues gaining traction in Congress.

“I think this is that rare issue. You know, protecting our parks is good for resources, it’s good for protecting visitor access, and it helps local economies continue to flourish.”

The bill needs the support of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get a floor vote in that chamber. In a statement, a spokesperson for McConnell said the Kentucky Republican “is a supporter of public lands and believes that the maintenance backlog on federal lands is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Any legislation that moves across the floor of the Senate will need to be paid for, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee continues to work on this issue.”

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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