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Great American Outdoors Act

To the editor:

Every year Michigan’s national park sites see 2.7 million visitors. The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to two popular sites, Isle Royale National Park and Keweenaw National Historical Park.

As a member of the Keweenaw National Park Advisory Commission and the Houghton City Council, I have seen what these special places mean to the Keweenaw community. In 2019, national parks benefited Michigan with an estimated $232 million in local economic spending that directly supported over 3,300 jobs. This tourism helps make the Keweenaw economy strong.

However, our national park sites, like so many across the country, are aging, and Congress has been inconsistent with its responsibility to fund repairs. That’s why national parks in Michigan need roughly $50 million in deferred maintenance funding for monuments, signs, buildings, campgrounds, and park infrastructure so that visitors feel safe in coming back year after year.

I was thrilled to see that in June the U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act on a strong bipartisan vote of 73-25. This bill focuses on addressing the nationwide $12 billion crumbling infrastructure backlog of repair projects in our national parks. In addition, the bill would for the first time fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a crucial program that provides access to state-owned outdoor recreational spaces.

Thank you, Sens. Peters and Stabenow, for joining your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this critical legislation. As the legislation faces a vote this week in the U.S. House, I hope Representative Bergman continues his strong support and commitment to fixing our national parks by voting for this bill.

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