The Interior Dept. is maintaining its aggressive pace in committing economic-stimulus funds for construction and maintenance projects around the country. Interior’s National Park Service on April 22 released a $750-million list of projects to be funded under the stimulus measure, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The roster contains 766 projects, including work on a wide range of buildings, monuments, trails and water and sewer lines.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar followed up the park news on April 25 by rolling out the $500-million stimulus plan for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including $278 million for schools and $143 million for road improvements. On April 26 Salazar released the breakdown of the $280- million stimulus program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including $227 million for infrastructure projects and $50 million for habitat restoration.
The projects on the Park Service list “seem to be a good mix of things that need to be done throughout the country to address the $9-billion [NPS] maintenance backlog,” says Tom Hill, special projects director in the National Parks Conservation Association’s government relations department. “It’s kind of a down payment, if you will, on the backlog."
California receives the largest NPS allocation, with $97.4 million for 97 projects, including $16.1 million for work on trails, buildings and water lines in Golden Gate National Recreational Area.
The District of Columbia ranks second, with $76.9 million for 11 projects, including $30.5 million to repair the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool, plus funds to repair the Jefferson Memorial seawall and restore the D.C. War Memorial.
Washington state has the third-largest sum, $62.2 million for 33 projects, including $54.7 million for six projects to prepare for removing Elwha Dam and restoring the Elwha River basin in Olympic National Park.
|District of Columbia||76.9|
SOURCE: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
In addition, the Park Service program includes $15 million for projects at historically black colleges and universities.
In announcing the plan, Salazar cited NPS projects at Ellis Island in New York Harbor and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. The Ellis Island site will receive $8.8 million from the stimulus to stabilize the baggage and dormitory building. Dinosaur National Monument will get $13.1 million to tear down and replace condemned portions of the Quarry Visitor Center. The building has been closed since July 2006. NPS officials say the facility has had foundation movement since it was built in 1957 on “expansive soils.”
The top three states for the Bureau of Indian Affairs stimulus aid are Arizona with $173.3 million, South Dakota with $102.1 million and New Mexico with $59.3 million. Most of those states’ funds are for constructing and renovating schools and other buildings.
Most of the Fish and Wildlife Service stimulus projects are small, with allocations of less than $1 million each. The largest allotments go to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in California and the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge in New York; each gets about $9.8 million. “We think they have a great mix of projects,” says Mike Daulton, National Audubon Society legislative director. He praises Fish and Wildlife for putting a priority on projects in its $3.5-billion operations and maintenance backlog. “This is another form of green jobs,” he says.