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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, June 7, 2019

Advocates urge Congress to restore Chattanooga's national parks




Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park faces nearly $50 million in deferred maintenance. - Photograph provided

Ahead of National Trails Day, National Park Partners Executive Director Tricia Mims led a tour of trails near the Point Park destination on Lookout Mountain to highlight the nearly $50 million in deferred maintenance facing Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

She was joined by former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy President Taft Sibley.

In February, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan bill to create a source of funding for the $12 billion in deferred maintenance projects facing the nation’s 418 national parks – including 12 parks in Tennessee.

Tourism at Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park created $69.2 million in economic benefits in 2018, the National Park Service reports. Yet the park faces $49.5 million in deferred maintenance as of 2015, impacting roads, bridges, restrooms and trail maintenance.

“This park has been so interlaced with our economic successes that you can’t put a price on it,” Littlefield says. “I don’t know any business that would allow this amount of deferred maintenance to build up.”

“I use the trail system here on a weekly basis, and the parts of the park I usually see often are overlooked because they’re less visible,” Sibley says. “Our 80 miles of trail systems are an incredible asset to Chattanooga and our visitors, but when trees fall and block the path for months without being addressed, it becomes a public safety issue.”

“The last major spending by Congress was over 60 years ago. It’s time for another era of reinvestment,” Mims adds.

More about deferred maintenance projects at U.S. national parks

Source: Cooley Public Strategies