On Tuesday, a Senate committee passed the Restore Our Parks Act that would address the $12 billion in deferred maintenance at national parks, sending the bill to a full Senate vote.
The bill will allocate up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to address a majority of the maintenance backlog — including $235 million in needed repairs at Great Smoky Mountain National Park and $50 million in repairs at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
"U.S. Senate took an important step forward on legislation that would be the single most important thing to happen in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in a half century," U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a video posted online.
Alexander introduced the bill earlier this year with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. The two had separately introduced legislation last year to deal with the issue and joined forces for this legislative session.
The act would establish a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund. The fund would use 50% of all revenue not otherwise allocated from existing on and offshore energy development to reduce the parks' maintenance backlog.
It passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a 15-5 vote. The adjoining House act passed committee earlier this summer.