The National Park Service will invest $750 million in 750 restoration and protection projects at parks across the country to create jobs and preserve American history and heritage for future generations, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday (April 22). 

The funding comes under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, part of the $3 billion allotment to the Interior Department, according to the Environment News Service

“From the Civil War to the Great Depression, America’s best ideas for protecting our national parks and open spaces have often come when our nation has faced its greatest challenges,” said Salazar. 

“Today, by investing $750 million to restore and protect America’s most special places, we are creating a new legacy of stewardship for our national park system while helping our economy stand up again,” he said. “These projects at places like Ellis Island in New York and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah are ready to go and will create jobs in communities across the country.” 

Parks Large and Small Will Benefit 

The National Park Service Recovery Act projects will benefit large parks such as Yellowstone, where more than $9 million will be spent to overhaul an antiquated wastewater treatment facility. 

At Olympic National Park in Washington state, $54.7 million will fund six mitigation projects to prepare for the removal of the Elwha Dam and restoration of the Elwha River basin. 

The funding will also benefit smaller parks such as Perry’s Victory and International and Peace Memorial in Ohio, where $7 million will be spent in the first phase of renovating the monument that commemorates Oliver Hazard Perry’s naval victory during the War of 1812. 

All the projects are long-standing priorities of the National Park Service that meet the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act – that a project addresses the department’s highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public. 

“This important reinvestment in the crumbling infrastructure of our national parks is a step that will create jobs in large and small communities nationwide, and help to restore our nation’s heritage for our children and grandchildren,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association. “There is much more to do to restore our national parks, but this is progress.”

The Interior Department’s list of National Park Service infrastructure projects includes: 

  • Upgrading Ash Mountain’s failing water system in Sequoia National Park to meet visitor needs and help with fire suppression, and the installation of renewable energy solar equipment to provide power for Yosemite National Park operations. 
  • The department will invest $30.5 million to repair the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and $7.3 million to restore the District of Columbia War Memorial at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. 
  • The Ellis Island Immigration Museum will get $26 million to repair the seawall and save one of its historic buildings. Of the total, $8.8 million will be spent to stabilize the Ellis Island Baggage and Dormitory Building built in 1908, one of the most significant structures at Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island in New York and New Jersey. 
  • At least $5.5 million will go to rehabilitate Independence Hall Tower at Independence National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. Famous as the location where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted, the building is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The legislation passed by Congress in February includes an investment of $900 million that will help reduce the National Park Service’s $9 billion backlog of maintenance and preservation projects, and address other park infrastructure needs. 

Congress directed approximately $750 million toward national park infrastructure projects through the Department of the Interior; an additional $170 million is provided for national park road repairs through the Department of Transportation.