The Warrenton City Council has joined Clatsop County and the City of Astoria in applauding national parks through statements recognizing the cultural, educational, recreational, and economic benefits they provide and asking Congress to provide dedicated funding to fix our parks. The City of Warrenton approved a letter to the Oregon congressional delegation on January 23, 2018 preceded by resolutions from Clatsop County on January 10, 2018 and the City of Astoria on December 18, 2017.
“My first job was as a Youth Conservation Corps intern at Fort Clatsop, and that later turned into a summer job as a national park ranger,” said Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer. “With very few opportunities for paid internships that can lead to real jobs in Warrenton, my employment at the park played a pivotal role in my early life and career, and I know others in my city have felt the benefit of such economic and learning opportunities. It is important that we continue to ensure that those opportunities remain accessible.”
“Fort Clatsop and Lewis and Clark National Historical Park are more than important pieces of our history, they generate significant economic activity for Clatsop County and its communities,” said Clatsop County Commissioner Scott Lee. “According to the National Park Service (NPS), over 280,000 visitors spent $16.5 million in our region while visiting the park. We need to give our parks the resources they need to safely welcome the increasing number of people who make Lewis and Clark National Historical Park part of their visit to Clatsop County.”
In light of a history of unreliable federal funding, the resolution calls on members of Congress to create a reliable and predictable stream of resources to help NPS address deferred maintenance at its more than 400 sites across the country. It is estimated that the current backlog of overdue park repairs—include crumbling roads, rotting historic buildings, eroding trails, outdated public buildings, and safety hazards such as deteriorating water and electrical systems—totals over $11 billion.
Fixing our parks will help support an important economic engine not only for our region but for our state. The NPS reports that during 2016, visitors to national parks in Oregon spent an estimated $97.5 million in local gateway regions, helping to support 1,640 jobs and providing our state an economic boost of $138.4 million.
“The growing backlog of infrastructure repairs in our national parks must be addressed if they are to keep up with increased visitation,” said Arline LaMear, mayor of the City of Astoria. “Lewis and Clark National Historical Park has over $2.5 million worth of backlogged repairs while all Oregon NPS assets have over $100 million worth of deferred maintenance that must be addressed. Making sure visitors to Fort Clatsop have a safe and enjoyable visit is good business for Astoria and other cities that have a national park in their backyard will tell you the same.”