WASHINGTON, D.C. – Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress to create more funding for national parks, including Mesa Verde National Park.
In an Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on national parks hearing last week, Gardner advocated for the Restore Our Parks Act, a bill that will establish a fund in the U.S. Treasury, known as the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund.”
If passed, 50 percent of excess energy development revenues would be deposited into the fund from 2019 to 2023. The revenues come from oil, gas, coal or alternative/renewable-energy development on federal lands and waters. The amount deposited into the fund annually for each fiscal year would be capped at $1.3 billion.
At Mesa Verde National Park, the deferred maintenance backlog is $70.5 million. If the bill passes, money from the fund would go to pay the backlog. Last year, 613,788 people visited Mesa Verde, and Gardner says this fund could help tourism in the park.
“I think it would increase tourism and it would help with the flow of tourism,” Gardner told The Durango Herald. “This would help enhance the visitor experience and make their visit a little bit better, and hopefully, allow more people to spend time in the area.”
Gardner said the bill has “strong” bipartisan support, and he is confident it will pass.
“The fact that you can have the executive branch and legislative branch in a bipartisan fashion together is a very good sign for legislation,” Gardner said.
Within the next month, Gardner said the bill will be in markup, where it will be voted out of committee.
Maria Carrasco is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.