Now that a National Parks entrance fee hike is on hold, competing legislation is floating through Congress that would permanently pay for the multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog using federal mineral revenues.
First there’s the bipartisan National Park Restoration Act.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke introduced that legislation at a press conference last month.
“If you’re going to raise wealth on public lands – primarily offshore and BLM – it’s a fair proposition to say you should also invest in the future of public lands, particularly in our parks,” he said.
Critics like Matt Lee-Ashley aren’t impressed. He’s with the left-leaning Center For American Progress and said the legislation would promote new energy projects on public lands.
“You’d actually have to go out and open up large new areas off-shore or begin drilling and mining in very sensitive revenues in order to be able to get any new revenues,” he said.
Lee-Ashley’s organization supports the competing National Park Service Legacy Act. That bipartisan legislation would use revenues from existing energy projects on federal lands.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.