Colorado tradesmen urge Congress to fix up national park system

Pear Lake, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park (Mark Harden, Colorado Politics)

Contractors and trade associations that might well do the work are among the groups nationally asking Congress to get serious about fixing up the National Park System.

The public request to Congress is part of National Infrastructure Week, which lasts until next Monday.

The nation’s parks have amassed a backlog of deferred maintenance that grew from $11.3 billion to $11.6 billion last year alone, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study.

The study sets the figure at $238 million in Colorado for needed work that includes roads, trails, historic structures and visitor centers. The report thinks Colorado could create 2,209 jobs if more federal support flowed into fixing up the parks.

“Our national parks are a treasure and one we need to preserve for generations to come,” Michael Gifford, president and CEO of Associated General Contractors of Colorado, said in a statement. “Congress needs to act to fund the long list of delayed infrastructure projects that are piling up at national parks across Colorado and throughout the country.

“We strongly urge members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to support dedicated funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog plaguing the National Park System, so that we can create new jobs for infrastructure workers and maintain the safety and integrity of these sites for visitors.”

Jeff Wasden, president of the Colorado Business Roundtable, said investing in national parks would not only create jobs near the parks but across the state, as well.

“Rebuilding our national parks is an investment in job creation and workers that will have an impact not only in national park gateway communities but also across the state of Colorado,” he stated. “These iconic sites are economic engines that help drive commerce in all parts of the state and addressing NPS’s infrastructure repair backlog will create or support even more jobs for residents.”

The state’s engineers, architects, planners, landscape architects, labor unions, and trade and professional groups aren’t the only ones asking.

In March, 29 members of the U.S. House signed a letter urging budget writers to provide more matching money to the National Park Foundation to help attract private donors.

U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez; Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs; and Diana DeGette, D-Denver, were among the signatories.

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