National Parks look for Bigger Budget

PEA RIDGE—Saturday and Sunday mark the opening weekend for National Park Week.

But visitors to parks around the nation, may find they need some repairs.

Last year, national parks had to defer eleven billion dollars in maintenance projects.

In Northwest Arkansas, the Pea Ridge National Military Park has put off millions in upgrades as well. Park Superintendent Kevin Eads says deferred projects carry over from year to year.

“So what that is work, that wasn’t able to get finished this year, or years before. And it’s a direct result of lack of budget or personnel.”

Eads says the park is overdue for repairs.

“We’re unique, among a lot of national parks in that, everything was put in place at one time, the problem with that is that everything starts going bad at about the same time.” Eads said.

Now the Park has a little over two million dollars in differed maintenance and Eads says a lot of these funds will go to upkeep for over 23 miles of roads and trails.

“We’re looking at working on our roads, the vast majority of our roads, we’re looking at working on our trails, and some of our historic structures like the Elkhorn Tavern. It includes culverts, erosion areas, it includes cracks in the base, the foundation of the road itself.” Eads said.

With only a 12 member staff and insufficient budge— Eads said they are hard pressed to maintain the park.

“Because of our budget, and our staff, as great as they are, we have to make tough decisions on what we focus on.” Eads said.

Eads says the Federal Budget for 2016 includes a bigger fund for National Parks. He says that will keep the Park Beautiful for generations to come.

“Millions of Americans across the United States identify with national parks, whether it’s with the cultural resources, with the national resources, or it’s just a place of solitude. They mean a lot to people.”

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