As our country faces the devastating impacts of COVID-19, our national parks still stand as beacons of our highest ideals. They share our national history and culture, conserve pristine landscapes, boost our local economies, and, especially during this trying time, offer places of solace.
North Dakota is blessed with 3 different national parks sites; the Knife River Indian Villages, the Fort Union Trading Post, and our beloved Theodore Roosevelt National Park. These treasures draw 775,000 visitors a year, who generate $63 million in economic benefit!
However, right now many of the communities who are strengthened by their proximity to the national parks are really struggling. Not only is visitation down, but our parks are desperately in need of maintenance repairs.
That’s why it’s encouraging to see strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate for the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422). If enacted, it would dedicate $6.5 billion over the next 5 years to fixing buildings, roads, bridges, water lines, and other crumbling infrastructure in the parks. This legislation is cosponsored by 59 Democrats and Republicans, and President Trump has signaled his support.
Looking toward a time when COVID-19 has passed, we are going to need to put folks back to work and invest in infrastructure. To me, it’s common sense that we would fix our national parks, create thousands of jobs, and support local economies. I hope Senator Hoeven joins Senator Cramer in cosponsoring the Great American Outdoors Act because it would greatly benefit North Dakota.