I am sharing this response to Rachele Smith’s article “Find Your Park” published on page 2 of the Vacation and Travel section on March 27.
As a curator for the Louisiana State Museum and friend of several national park rangers, underfunding of maintenance and the risks it presents are a deep concern we should discuss as we promote our parks. Thank you for your time and consideration.
As Smith noted in her recent article, “chances are there’s something for you at one of America’s 58 national parks.”
From Olympic National Park in Washington state to the Everglades in Florida to national monuments and historic sites in Louisiana, our national parks offer invaluable snapshots of America’s natural and cultural history.
And as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, it’s imperative we keep it that way.
Over the years, upkeep of our national parks has lagged due to congressional underfunding.
Some of the needed repairs are small — welcome centers that need power washing or a new coat of paint. Others are significant. The Ring Levee Trail at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park in Marrero is closed due to safety risks from disrepair.
Altogether, there is an estimated $11.9 billion backlog of needed infrastructure repairs and maintenance costs at our national parks, including an estimated $15 million here in Louisiana.
With more than 510,000 people visiting National Park Service sites in Louisiana and an estimated $28 million in economic benefit from national tourism, we need to make sure the parks are open and accessible to everyone.
We cannot let our country’s natural wonders and historic relics become victims of neglect.
As we mark this centennial anniversary, let’s make sure that Congress properly funds these infrastructure repairs. That way, there will be something for future generations at our national parks, too.
curator, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum