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National Parks Capacity & Infrastructure


NPS Deferred Maintenance Backlog

The National Park Service (NPS) issued (January) an updated estimate of its deferred maintenance backlog, putting the level at $22.3 billion.

In 2022, NPS updated its methodology on its calculation of the backlog, which resulted in the total increasing 70% from $13 billion in 2019. The agency claimed that its updated methodology is more consistent with industry standards including a fuller scope of construction-related costs such as design and construction management.

The ability to measure progress in reducing the backlog going forward will be important because of recent investments in national park infrastructure, such as an infusion of $1.3 billion in new funding annually (FY 2021-25) under the Great American Outdoors Act and a $1.7 billion (22%) increase in the 2021 Infrastructure and Jobs Act for the NPS Federal Lands Transportation Program over five years.

(updated: 1-31-23)


Emergency Funding for National Parks 2023

The FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Act included $1.5 billion in emergency funding for National Parks to help recover from disasters in 2022.

Within the total, an estimated $916 million will be used to help Yellowstone National Park recover from historic flooding in the summer of 2022.

(updated: 1-31-23)


National Park Capacity

With record usage of national parks during the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 and 2021, some scholars and interest groups argue that both usage should be better managed, and that the number of national parks be increased. One proposal (Mike Childers, Colorado State University) recommends that the US implement a national reservation system to be used for entering our national parks. Another (Michael Kellett, the Sierra Club) recommends expanding the number of national parks, and offers up 12 specific locations that should be considered. A good current list of U.S. National Parks can be found on Wikipedia

(updated: 2-2-22)


Connected Policies


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National Parks and Snowmobiles
National Parks and Snowmobiles

This is the regulation that articulates policy regarding the use of snowmobiles in National Parks.

Status: this regulation was last updated on February 11, 2022.

Park Service Noise Policy
Park Service Noise Policy

This is the primary operational management policy of the National Park Service (NPS) directing park managers to (1) measure baseline acoustic conditions, (2) determine which existing or proposed human-made sounds are consistent with park purposes, (3) set acoustic management goals and objectives based on these purposes, and (4) determine which noise sources are impacting the park and need to be addressed by management.

Status: this policy was issued in December 2000.


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