Hoeven Advancing Legislation to Address NPS Maintenance Backlog, Works to Secure Support for Presidential Library

Senator Hosts Interior Secretary in Medora Region, Reviews Damage to TRNP Scenic Loop & Plans for Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

MEDORA, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, along with Senator Kevin Cramer and Governor Doug Burgum, today highlighted to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt the maintenance needs at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) and efforts to establish the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. Hoeven invited Bernhardt to the state through his role on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Park Service (NPS). The senator has worked to both address deferred maintenance under the NPS and secure support for the new library.

“Around 700,000 people visit North Dakota each year to enjoy the tremendous beauty and significance of our national parks and historical sites,” said Hoeven. “The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an important contributor to our economy, which is why we are advancing the Restore Our Parks Act and other funding measures to ensure its infrastructure can provide a safe and enjoyable visit for its guests. This includes the scenic drive in the south unit of the TRNP, a 28-mile loop that has been rendered unpassable due to erosion. Further, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library represents a real opportunity to boost the impact of the national park. We helped make the case for this project to Secretary Bernhardt during his visit, and I look forward to continuing my work with him to advance these priorities for the state.”

NPS Maintenance Backlog

As part of today’s event, the group discussed the TRNP’s ongoing maintenance needs with park leadership and reviewed the status of the scenic loop in the park’s south unit, which has been closed due to erosion. Overall, the NPS has more than $50 million of deferred maintenance in North Dakota, mostly consisting of road repairs. 

Accordingly, Hoeven is advancing:

  • The Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation he cosponsored that would use 50 percent of the excess revenues from energy development on federal lands to create a NPS Legacy Restoration fund to resolve the maintenance backlog. 
    • The revenues are already owed to the federal government, would require no new taxes and would not impact mineral and energy revenues that go to the states. 
    • The bill would also authorize the NPS to accept cash or in-kind donations to the restoration fund to encourage public-private partnerships. 
    • The fund would accrue an expected $6.5 billion over a five-year period.
  • An increase of $135 million for the NPS in the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations legislation, supporting construction, maintenance and new park units. 
    • Includes $20 million for the Centennial Challenge grant program, which provides matching funds to address maintenance and other needs in national parks.

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

Hoeven has been working to build support for the development of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, having secured commitments from the Acting NPS Director and the President of the National Park Foundation, the official charitable partner to the NPS, to help advance this effort. The facility, which will be located in the TRNP, will include more than 50,000 digitized documents and other archives from the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University (DSU).

Hoeven built on his past efforts during Bernhardt’s visit, where they reviewed the plans for the library’s construction and outlined fundraising efforts to date. The library’s foundation is more than halfway to its goal of raising $100 million in private donations, which will be matched by $50 million in state funding. Hoeven stressed that support by the NPS and the National Park Foundation would help bolster this progress and urged Bernhardt to help ensure the organizations’ involvement.