The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) recently released a new report—Breaking the Backlog: 7 Ideas to Address the National Park Deferred Maintenance Problem—offering several creative ideas to address the $11.9 billion backlog of deferred infrastructure maintenance in our national parks. The reforms would enable parks to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on Congress for annual appropriations as the National Parks System nears its centennial anniversary.
The PERC report includes an article I penned recommending that the National Parks Service explore the use of infrastructure public-private partnerships to help tackle the maintenance backlog. Here’s an excerpt:
Roads and other transportation infrastructure make up half of the deferred maintenance backlog in national parks. With the agency’s centennial fast approaching, the National Park Service should consider creative partnerships with the private sector to address these challenges and ensure park infrastructure is sustainable in the agency’s second century, not marred by chronic deterioration.
The National Park Service can look to states and local governments for inspiration on how to deal with their infrastructure challenges. Over the past several decades, state and local governments have turned to public-private partnerships to tap into private-sector capital and expertise. This allows them to stretch limited tax dollars further, often by outsourcing maintenance activities to the private sector to lower costs.