SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - As the National Park Service approaches its centennial, it is facing billions of dollars in delayed maintenance projects - including a $278 million backlog in Utah.
The cost of delayed projects nationwide came to $11.49 billion for 2014, according to a report released by the National Park Service on Monday.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1GW4ETs) that the maintenance delays are caused by decreased federal funding combined with increased visitation, which has been straining the parks’ resources.
Last year saw a record-breaking number of visitors to national parks. Nearly 300 million people visited, taking a toll on roads, trails, campgrounds and visitor centers.
Utah’s Zion National Park alone saw 3.1 million visitors, making it the seventh-most visited park in the country. It has accumulated $62.1 million in delayed projects _ the second-highest total among the national parks in Utah.
Road work is currently being done on Zion’s Kolob Terrace Road, which leads to Kolob Reservoir and has been on a backlog list for two decades.
Four other parks have more than $30 million in delayed maintenance projects, according to the report:
_ Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - $65.1 million
_ Canyonlands National Park - $40 million
_ Bryce Canyon National Park - $37.6 million
_ Arches National Park- $32.9 million
Dave Nimkin, the southwest senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, called the National Park Service maintenance backlog ”profoundly disappointing.’
Pushing off maintenance can quickly add up, Nimkin said.
”These are similar choices, although on a much larger scale, of the ones we might face as homeowners,’ he said. ”We might decide not to replace the roof this year, and it might lead to leaks, which then lead to problems with the ceiling.’
The National Park Service will mark its 100th anniversary in 2016. Director Jonathan Jarvis said the parks should ensure that they can provide a great experience for visitors during the centennial celebration.
The $3 billion President Barack Obama has proposed giving the National Park Service should cover the most important non-transportation park assets, Jarvis said.
Utah’s deferred budget total comes in 14th behind several regions, including the District of Columbia and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
The largest deferred budget belongs to California, which has outstanding projects totaling $1.72 billion.