Friday, April 19, 2024

Pender commissioners to call upon Congress to support underfunded National Parks

Despite bringing in millions to local economies, National Parks are going unfunded

The Moores Creek National Battlefield is the only National Park in Southeast N.C. located in Pender County (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy National Park Service)
The Moores Creek National Battlefield is the only National Park in Southeast N.C. located in Pender County (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy National Park Service)

PENDER COUNTY—The United States National Park Service maintains 10 different parks in the state that helped bring $1.3 billion into the state economy in 2017. According to the National Park Service, N.C. is the third-highest grossing state when it comes to park visitors spending, after California and Alaska. But, despite the revenues brought in by parks, funding for parks is hard to acquire.

That is why the Pender County Board of Commissioners is presenting a resolution that is petitioning Congress to support dedicated funding to address the overall backlog of maintenance costs nationwide.

Due to funding issues, the National Park Service is behind on maintaining these parks with more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance costs nationally.

Moores Creek National Battlefield, which is located in Pender County and is the only National Park in the region, is nearly $3 million behind on maintenance costs.

According to Pender County Manager Randell Woodruff, the Pew Charitable Trust is conducting a survey to address the needs of National Parks across the county.

According to a presentation from the Pew Charitable Trusts made to the Pender County Board of Commissioners, “Deferred maintenance is defined as a repair need that has not been addressed for a year or more. There are over 41,000 assets in need of repair. They include crumbling roads, rotting historic buildings, eroding trails, outdated visitor amenities, and deteriorating memorials.”

North Carolina saw the third highest spending by park visitors after California and Alaska (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy National Park Service)
North Carolina saw the third highest spending by park visitors after California and Alaska (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy National Park Service)

Moores Creek National Battlefield is nearly $3 million behind on maintenance costs.

In 2016, the Moores Creek National Battlefield saw 84,000 visitors. Despite its draw to visitors, the park is in need of repairs that have gone unaddressed. These repairs include, aging historical structures, trails, sewers, thousands of miles of roads, bridges, tunnels, and other vital infrastructure, according to Pender County’s resolution.

“From a tourism standpoint, keeping Moores Creek National Battlefield fully staffed and maintained is extremely important,” Pender County Tourism Spokeswoman Tammy Proctor said. “Moores Creek, the site of the first North Carolina Patriots’ victory in the American Revolutionary War, is a point of interest in our history. Moores Creek National Battlefield is Southeast North Carolina’s only national park. It provides programs that attract visitors of all ages. Some of their outstanding programs include the annual commemoration of the Battle of Moores Creek, the fall Living History Series, and the Candlelight History Walk.”

Prioritizing park needs is the responsibility of the National Park Service.

According to the Pew presentation, “The National Park Service is required by Congress to preserve national parks for future generations to enjoy. With more than 75,000 park assets to maintain, the agency has developed a rating system to help direct limited funding to the highest priority maintenance projects.”

So far in North Carolina, 26 counties and municipalities have adopted similar resolutions asking congress to provide the resources needed to maintain the parks.

What are the needs, and what are the benefits?

Visitors to the Moores Creek National Battlefield spent approximately $5.5 million in 2017 locally (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy National Park Service)
Visitors to the Moores Creek National Battlefield spent approximately $5.5 million in 2017 locally (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy National Park Service)

Of the $2.8 million needed to maintain Moores Creek National Battlefield, the costliest repair is needed at the parking lot, which requires $1.6 million, according to the presentation.

Other needs include buildings, paved roads, trails, landscaping, and waste water systems.

According to the National Park Service, Moores Creek National Battlefield visitors spent $5.5 million in the local economy. The largest expense was through hotels with an estimated $1.9 million spent on lodging alone.

Local restaurants also saw more than $1 million in revenue thanks to park visitors, and gas sales were also high.

But it’s not just about visitors spending money in the local economy, according data, the expenditures also help provide 80 jobs to the region. Restaurant staff, hotel staff, and recreation industries were directly impacted by the amount of visitors to the park.

The Pender County Board of Commissioners will meet Monday at 4 p.m. to vote on approving the resolution to Congress.

National Parks Funding Resolution 05212018 by Michael James on Scribd


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