Park Service Lists Maintenance It Can’t Afford, Including $203M Across Colo.

February 5, 2016
Photo: Crowded Rocky Mountain National Park, Above Visitor Center (HV)
A line of people walk up a trail above the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015.

The cost of repairing roads, bridges, trails and buildings has increased to $11.93 billion across the National Park Service's 409 units. That marks a $440 million increase from the previous year, according to the agency's own estimate released this week.

The mounting costs associated with deferred maintenance has long been an issue for the Park Service in Colorado and across the country. The Park Service reports that locations across Colorado require $203 million in repairs. 

Rocky Mountain National Park leads the pack with nearly $63 million in deferred maintenance. At least one-quarter of that is related to trail maintenance. The 2013 the flood severely damaged trails in the Alluvial Fan and Old Fall River Road areas. 

RMNP is also facing needed repairs and upgrades to pipes and waste systems built decades ago.

“When you’re a park that’s been around for 100 years, you have an old infrastructure. And for us that’s paved roads, unpaved roads, trails," said RMNP spokeswoman Kyle Patterson last September.

Meantime, Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado needs nearly $57 million in work. Nearly half of that amount is associated with road repairs across the park.

2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service. Along with the event, some legislators are hoping that the issue of deferred maintenance will receive increased attention.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., introduced the Centennial Act in 2015 to add an additional $1 billion for deferred maintenance. So far the bill has seen little traction.

Grijalva used the NPS report Friday to draw new attention to the issue.

"House Republicans go home to their districts and tell the local newspaper that they support national parks, and then they fly to D.C. and vote against giving the NPS the funding it needs. You can’t claim to love parks if you’re not willing to invest in them," he said in a press release.

The park service has seen flat or declining budgets in recent years. According to National Parks Traveler, the December 2015 Omnibus Budget Bill gave a 40 percent increase for construction projects--adding $193 million into NPS coffers for building and other maintenance efforts.