Will Michigan’s National Parks soon get some much needed TLC?


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National parks in Michigan and around the nation could get some much needed TLC if Congress acts to provide much needed financial support.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is promoting bipartisan legislation that would address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at parks across the country, and recently attended an event with lawmakers supporting the issue.

Yaron Miller, an officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts' Restore America's Parks campaign, says many of the problems at the parks impact access and safety.

"These repairs include deteriorating historic buildings, unsafe roads, eroding trails, outdated campgrounds and broken bathrooms, crumbling monuments and degraded water, sewer and electrical systems," he points out.

National parks in Michigan are struggling with $52 million in deferred maintenance.

The U.S. Senate is considering the Restore Our Parks Act, which would provide up to $6.5 billion dollars over five years to address the backlog.

Michigan Republicans Jack Bergman and Fred Upton are co-sponsors of companion legislation in the House.

Michigan's five national parks attract 2.5 million people every year. And as president of the Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau, Dianne St. Amour says investments are needed to ensure the parks are viable for generations to come.

"It's preserving our history, it's preserving nature," she states. "You won't have the chance to explore the wildlife, and explore the nature. And it works for your mental health and your physical health, too. So, this is something that I definitely think we need to preserve."

St. Amour adds that the parks also are a key part of the state's economy, supporting 3,700 jobs and generating $235 million in spending each year.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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