On the steps of one of the most historic landmarks in New York Saturday, officials and conservation advocates rallied to raise awareness for funding needed to maintain National Park Service sites across the state.
A backlog of repairs and maintenance needed for all of the NPS sites is more than $11.6 billion. New York state boasts 23 NPS sites, including three in New York City that honor George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt that have a combined backlog of work totaling almost $11 million. The deferred maintenance could create nearly 10,000 jobs in the state, advocates said.
Hosted by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and The Pew Charitable Trusts, the rally was fittingly held at Federal Hall, an NPS site on Wall Street where George Washington was inaugurated as the first U.S. president and where the first Congress introduced the Bill of Rights.
“Our national parks, monuments and other public sites are the crown jewels of this country, and New York locations are some of the most recognized sites around the world,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “Investing in our national parks spurs economic growth and creates thousands of jobs throughout New York State. These special places house natural and cultural treasures that should be protected for enjoyment today and by future generations.”
In 2016, officials said, more than 18 million people visited national parks in New York, generating more than $853 million in revenue — and infrastructure wear and tear.
President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled budget included a 16 percent cut of the Department of the Interior, which oversees the NPS. The plan also calls for a 7 percent cut to the NPS itself.
“We have to end the cycle of damaging budget proposals and deal with the urgent need to repair our parks,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “Our national parks in New York City and all across the country are America’s treasures. We are entrusted to pass them on to future generations, but more cuts would jeopardize these historic landmarks and landscapes.”
That sentiment was seconded by Cortney Worrall, senior regional director of NPCA’s Northeast Regional Office.
“New York City's park sites celebrate and represent more than 200 years of American history. But they also need millions in repairs,” she said. “This shouldn't be how we treat places so important to our country’s history. We must make sure future generations of visitors can enjoy and explore these places representing America’s heritage. Now is the time to fix our parks.”