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Great American Outdoors Act will help fund local park projects

Great American Outdoors Act will help fund local park projects

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After passing the U.S. Senate last month and the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the Great American Outdoors Act is awaiting a signature from President Donald Trump.

If signed, the bill could provide billions in funding toward the National Parks Service’s maintenance backlog, including locally at Booker T. Washington National Monument.

Like most national parks, Booker T. Washington National Monument has a growing list of unfunded maintenance projects, which currently tops out at $1.4 million, according to Superintendent Robin Snyder.

The majority of that backlog is due to repairs needed on its historic tobacco barn. Snyder said the roof and several logs need to be replaced. The project is expected to be costly due to the need to use antique building practices to maintain the barn’s historic look.

There is other maintenance needed at the park’s visitor center and headquarters, and the park roads and trails are in need of upgrades as well, Snyder said.

Maintenance projects are always evolving, Snyder said. The number of projects grows when work is needed and can shrink when the funding is provided through the National Parks Service.

One overdue $30,000 project, to repair the park’s of Jack-O-Lantern trail, received funding for the repairs earlier this year, she said.

The Great American Outdoors Act had bipartisan support in the Senate, passing 73 to 25. When it came up for a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, it passed 310 to 107. Trump also vowed to sign the bill.

Once signed into law, Snyder said the approved funding could make its way to the park as early as next year.

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