As we observe the Memorial Day holiday, one site close to my heart is the Chalmette Battlefield and its National Cemetery.
Unfortunately the site has fallen to disrepair to the tune of $1.4 million in deferred maintenance. There is an immediate need for a new wastewater treatment facility, plus repairs to its roads, parking lots, and buildings. Deferred maintenance becomes increasingly more expensive the longer it is deferred.
This is also a problem at Louisiana’s national parks, with all five requiring a total of $15 million in upgrades and urgent repairs.
Our veterans from the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War, the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans are buried here. They deserve better recognition for their service.
While there are daily visitors to the battlefield and cemetery, during the 200th commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans, a total of 11,973 visitors came to the site in just five days — January 7th through January 11th, 2015.
Our national parks in Louisiana are economic drivers. For the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve and the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park a total of 473,395 visitors spent $27.7 million in 2016 directly in the communities where these parks are located. This spending supported 427 jobs and had a cumulative enhanced benefit of $36.3 million. Our state’s national parks return more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service by our government. This is good business and a great return on investment. There is no dedicated funding to address the $12 billion backlog in infrastructure repair affecting our 400-plus parks across the nation — until now. The National Park Service Legacy Act — bipartisan federal legislation introduced by both the House and Senate — would allocate $50 million annually from existing revenues the government receives for oil and natural gas royalties.
I urge our state delegation to support this much-needed legislation, so we have a solution that restores our parks in Louisiana and nationwide.