The United States House of Representatives has passed a transportation bill that includes nearly $ 2 billion for work on roads, bridges and transportation systems in the national park system.
the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America authorize federal programs on roads, transit and railways that would help reduce air pollution. The measure also supports the strengthening of the country’s transport infrastructure, including in national parks, to be more resilient to climate change.
“This bill describes significant investments in our country’s water infrastructure and invests in common sense solutions that would reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, protect motorists and ensure the long-term health of park wildlife. nationals, “the National Parks Conservation Association said in a statement after Thursday’s vote.
The national parks system is second behind the Department of Defense in terms of the amount of federal infrastructure it manages, including 10,000 miles of publicly accessible roads and 1,440 bridges. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of the park’s roads are in poor condition and in need of repair, while many parks are also seeing record number of visits, according to the NPCA statement.
The package also includes significant investments in essential water infrastructure. Like the country’s roads, the country’s water infrastructure systems have fallen into a serious state of disrepair, failing to protect public health and water park ecosystems, the NPCA said.
The legislation, if enacted, would invest more than $ 50 billion over five years for wastewater and stormwater treatment infrastructure, in addition to over $ 100 billion over 10 years for drinking water infrastructure, including prioritizing climate resilient infrastructure solutions and providing cleaner and safer water for parks and the gateway. communities.
“As record numbers of visitors explore our national parks this summer, they will unfortunately have to navigate crumbling roads and bridges to see towering redwoods and spectacular waterfalls. Today’s vote in the House brings us one step closer to the funding our national parks urgently need, as many sites across the country brace for an influx of visitors, while trying to keep the roads, Accessible and operational bridges and transit systems in a changing climate, ”said Emily Douce, NPCA’s director of park operations and finance.
“Our parks need our support if they are to continue to meet this increased demand and provide inspiring experiences for visitors now and for years to come.”
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has been pleased to see that the bill includes a $ 100 million per year grant program to help states build more wildlife-friendly road crossing structures, including overpasses. and lower, which benefit migratory big game and many other species. An amendment was also successfully passed to establish a new grant program to fund and support culvert restoration projects, which will help restore critical anadromous fish passages across the country.
“Now is the right time to invest in transportation infrastructure and jobs in the United States, and it is only fitting that we are ensuring fish and wildlife habitat as we make large improvements. scale, ”said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This may be our best shot at weaving fragmented migration corridors and fish habitat, especially now that we know more about how animals use seasonal habitats and exactly how development affects their patterns.” of displacement. Science and technology have advanced, but we cannot create solutions without the dedicated funding provided in this bill, which would create the first national wildlife crossing initiative of its kind and help prioritize culvert restoration through the country.
At Defenders of Wildlife, Curt Chaffin, senior government relations representative, called the measure “truly a victory for people and wildlife. Habitat destruction is one of the main drivers of the biodiversity crisis. Investments that address habitat connectivity and protect wildlife and the places they call home are a critical part of the solution. These wildlife infrastructure provisions will protect biodiversity, increase public safety and create local jobs.
Main provisions relating to transport in the parks included in the INVEST in America law:
- Guarantees an increase in annual Park Service funding – an additional $ 580 million over the life of the five-year bill – through the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which provides funds to improve roads, bridges, transportation by common and other transport infrastructure in the parks.
- Spends $ 200 million annually on federal land management agencies to deal with major repair projects, such as the reconstruction of the Grand Loop Road in yellowstone national park and the repair of the Tioga road in Yosemite National Park.
- Increases the Federal Land Access Program by $ 350 million over five years, which provides funding to states and other local entities to enable park visitors to access national parks and other federal lands.
- Provides significant investments to reduce carbon pollution and advance mitigation and resilience measures in parks to tackle climate change.
- Establishes a $ 400 million wildlife crossing grant program to support federal, tribal, and state agency efforts to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, protect motorists, and improve habitat connectivity .
- The funds updated research into the causes and consequences of wildlife-vehicle collisions, including in-depth studies and reports to Congress.
Main provisions relating to hydraulic infrastructures included in the INVEST in America law:
- Re-authorizes the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, quadrupling current funding levels to $ 8 billion per year, which would begin to tackle aging and failing sewage and stormwater infrastructure nationwide that is contributing poor water quality threatening water resources in downstream national parks.
- Increases funding for the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Grant program, investing $ 2 billion over five years to reduce pollution threatening park waters of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the St National Scenic River Cross and other parks in the country.
- Increases state management assistance grants, providing $ 2.5 billion over five years to support state agencies in implementing Clean Water Act protections essential to public health, recreation and protection of the park’s water resources.
- Investing over $ 100 billion in drinking water infrastructure over 10 years, helping to ensure that communities in our parks have access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water.
the Senate Land Transport Bill includes culvert provisions, but only $ 350 million over five years for wildlife crossings. It also includes a climate resilience agenda that is not in the House bill. The two versions will need to be reconciled before the President can approve and advance the much-needed conservation provisions mentioned above.