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Arizona’s national parks need more than $500 million in repairs

(Flickr Photo/Grand Canyon National Park)

PHOENIX – The aging U.S. national park system needs nearly $12 billion in infrastructure repairs, including hundreds of millions of dollars in Arizona, according to a group seeking solutions for the problem.

“The backlog is challenging the park service because it’s over 100 years old – as Arizona certainly knows, having just celebrated the Grand Canyon’s 100th birthday – and the facilities are deteriorating with age,” Marcia Argust, project director for the Restore America’s Parks campaign of the Pew Charitable Trust, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

The campaign works with national, state and local groups to raise awareness about the problem and push Congress to increase funding for park maintenance.

She said Arizona’s national parks need more than $500 million in repairs.

“That needs to be addressed, because the parks are a big economic driver in the state,” she said.

“Over 13 million visitors come to the state each year to see the 24 park units in Arizona, and they are spending over $1 billion in local communities.”

That supports nearly 17,000 jobs in the state, Argust said.

“So it’s very important that that Arizona members of Congress work to pass legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog, and that’s a really smart investment, economically as well as preserving our resources,” she said.

Argust said buildings, roads, trails, water and sewage systems and outdated visitor centers are among the items falling into disrepair throughout the National Park Service.

Grand Canyon National Park has all of those issues.

“The cost to address all the repairs in the Grand Canyon are over $300 million. A chunk of that is for the water line, which is … almost 70 years old. That 16-mile pipeline is the source of drinking water for the 6 million visitors that come to the park each year.”

She said the pipeline breaks 12 to 20 times a year and will cost $100 million to repair.

Argust said more than 3,000 of local officials and organizations nationwide have been urging Congress to provide resources to address the maintenance backlog.

“That list is very diverse. It includes local businesses and recreation groups, unions, contractors, engineering organizations, hotel and lodging associations,” she said.

“And Arizona has a very broad list of stakeholders who are pushing Congress to move on protecting our parks.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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