Many nonprofits are involved in advocacy work on issues relevant to their membership or specific purpose. As a Board Member and Treasurer with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and National Park Foundation donor, Aronson Partner Craig Stevens was invited to participate in a lobby day on May 23, to advocate on behalf of funding for deferred maintenance in our National Parks. The effort was put together as a joint project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Parks Conservation Association.
The specific issue the group addressed was the nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance in the National Parks. The backlog includes crumbling roads and bridges, run-down trails, rotting historic buildings, and outdated utility systems. Moreover, half of the backlog is comprised of transportation-related repairs. In addition to being a source of great national pride and identity, the National Parks are proven economic boosters. In 2016, over 300 million known tourists visited the parks; additionally, the parks directly and indirectly employ almost 300,000 people, and add $32 billion to the national economy.
Virginia’s delegation for the event included many well-known and passionate community leaders. Rebecca Knuffke from The Pew Charitable Trusts who works full-time on this issue guided the group for the day. Other group participants included John McCarthy of the Piedmont Environmental Council and former county manager for Rappahannock County, Virginia, which borders Shenandoah National Park; Zann Nelson who ran a friends group for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park; and, Mark Andrews the Executive Director of Therapeutic Adventures, Inc., an organization from Charlottesville that develops programs and services to provide greater access to the outdoors for persons with differing abilities.
Throughout the day, the Virginia delegation met with staff representatives of US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chair and Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, and staff from four Virginia congressional offices – Representative Morgan Griffith (Virginia’s 9th District), Representative Don Beyer (Virginia’s 8th District), Representative Bob Goodlatte (Virginia’s 6th District), and Representative Barbara Comstock (Virginia’s 10th District). Their mission was to educate on the issue and recommend support for S. 751, National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017, which was introduced by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, and a companion House Bill H.R 2584, introduced by Representative Will Hurd of Texas. Without proper attention and support for this legislation, park infrastructure may collapse hurting visitors to the parks and the economic activity around them.
For more information about the issue at hand, please contact Aronson’s Craig Stevens at 301.231.6200.