Norton says NPS Parks in D.C. to Disproportionately Benefit from the Great American Outdoors Act

Jul 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) strongly supported the Great American Outdoors Act, which the House passed today and now heads to the president’s desk, pointing out that the District of Columbia is a city of parks, with 20 percent of the District consisting of parkland, almost 90 percent of which is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS). 


The bill will, among other things, provide funding to reduce the $12 billion NPS maintenance backlog, one-sixth of which is in the National Capital Region.


Norton said that the NPS parks in the nation’s capital go far beyond famous national parks like the National Mall, with most neighborhood parks under NPS jurisdiction


Norton submitted the following statement on the bill into the congressional record.


I strongly support the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which would, among other things, address the National Park Service’s (NPS) deferred maintenance backlog, a problem that disproportionately affects the National Capital Region and, especially, the District of Columbia. Twenty percent of the District consists of parkland, almost 90 percent of which is under the jurisdiction of NPS. 


National parks are some of America’s greatest treasures, yet NPS, the agency that maintains our federal parks, has a $12 billion maintenance backlog. One-sixth of all projects in the backlog are in the National Capital Region, with $1.3 billion in D.C. itself. The National Mall and Memorial Parks have the highest number of deferred maintenance projects in the nation, with more than $840 million in needed repairs still outstanding, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. The most significant deferred maintenance projects involve refurbishing memorials and making necessary repairs for supporting infrastructure. Although these parks are located in D.C., they are of national significance. The National Mall and Memorial Parks accommodate more than 36 million visits each year and roughly 30,000 people use their 15 softball fields, eight volleyball courts, two rugby fields and the Washington Monument grounds for sporting events nearly year-round. This heavy use has caused a $13 million repair backlog for the Mall grounds.

            In addition to the National Mall and Memorial Parks, NPS owns most of D.C.’s neighborhood parks, including 156 small green spaces and many circles, squares and fountains throughout D.C.  Also included in the backlog are historic sites such as Ford’s Theatre, the FDR Memorial, East and West Potomac Parks, the Carter Barron Amphitheatre and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.  I support passage of the Great American Outdoors Act so that NPS can properly maintain all of our incredible national parks.