SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, Va. (WVIR) - The newly signed Great American Outdoors Act will invest billions of dollars into parks across the nation to fund maintenance projects, with more than $1 billion dollars going to parks in the Commonwealth, including Shenandoah National Park.
“This legislation, this law, will repair half of that backlog, over 6 billion dollars and in Virginia, we’ve got the third-largest backlog of any state in the country,” Senator Mark Warner said.
Senator Warner said the legislation will provide funding for much-needed maintenance projects, from renovating visitor centers to making trails and parkways safe.
According to spokesperson Sally Hurlbert, Shenandoah National Park alone has outstanding maintenance needs totaling almost $90 million.
“That happens when we don’t get enough funding from year to year to cover all of our maintenance needs, so overtime, that builds up. So we’ve been in existence for over 80 years, so it’s 80 years-worth of maintenance backlog that’s developed,” Hurlbert said.
Hurlbert said funding will support projects ranging from water systems to rock-wall maintenance on Skyline Drive.
“We have a lot of historic buildings in the park and they need to have restoration done to them. And then our campground needs to have upgrades. There’s just a lot of things that some of them are visible and some of them are not visible,” Hurlbert said.
The act is expected to bring more than 10,000 jobs to the commonwealth and be an even larger economic driver by bringing more tourists to the park.
“As soon as we start having more visitors and they’re paying an entrance fee into the park or buying the park passes, that definitely boosts our income in our recreational fee program. And also, if more of them camp, that’s another way that we raise money,” Hurlbert said.
Funding will also be dispersed to other forest and wildlife services over the next five years.
“For all of us who value our history or enjoy just taking a great hike or being outdoors or riding our bike through the parks, this is a giant step forward,” Hurlbert said.
Hurlbert said she to have more of a solid idea about how much funding the park with receive and how it will specifically be used in the next few months.