NPS needs to spend four times the amount it gets every year from Congress to fix its maintenance backlog, which is expected to grow each year, according to research from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). Much of the maintenance backlog facing the agency is caused by expanding operations at the expense of basic upkeep. The NPS added 18 new units to the national parks system since 2009, costing the agency an enormous amount of money. As the mission of NPS expanded, the agency became increasingly unable to fund necessary maintenance projects. The correlation between new park units and deferred maintenance is quite direct. The U.S. government has spent more than $10 billion acquiring new public lands, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Recall that one of those acquisitions was the Valle Caldera in northern NM, and I wrote at the time:
It also contains the Heinrich-Udall language to transfer the Valles Caldera Preserve from a multiple-use trust to the sole jurisdiction of the National Park Service. In a joint statement Senators Heinrich and Udall say the transfer is “to increase public access.” In a floor statement Senator Heinrich says current management has resulted in “drastically limited public access with relatively high entrance and permit fees” and the new management will result in “expanded public access.” A more realistic assessment comes from the Washington Post: The Park Service is taking on Valles Caldera and numerous other properties at a time when the agency is struggling with more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance at existing parks and monuments and is looking to boost entrance fees at parks across the nation to generate more revenue in advance of the agency’s centennial. Can the agency afford what amounts to its largest expansion in nearly four decades?