Buffalo Soldiers Monument could benefit

WILBERFORCE — Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is on the list to benefit from a bi-partisan bill that help the National Parks make improvements.

Last week Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS).

“I introduced the bi-partisan Restore Our Parks Act because it’s critically important that we address the nearly $12 billion backlog of long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service,” Portman said. “This includes more than $100 million in deferred maintenance at Ohio’s eight national park sites like the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. The hearing is a good first step in getting this bill through the Senate and ultimately to the president’s desk for his signature so that we properly maintain and protect our national parks for generations to come.”

The bill would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing unobligated revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. Notably, the measure would help tackle the more than $100 million maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national park sites: Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument $1,959,471, Ohio Cuyahoga Valley National Park $45,813,356, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park $1,822,996, First Ladies National Historic Site $1,170,601, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park $2,113,766, James A Garfield National Historic Site $718,946, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial $47,747,223, and William Howard Taft National Historic Site $2,081,154.

Portman is an active outdoorsman and frequent visitor to Ohio’s national parks. Two years ago, during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, he authored the National Park Service Centennial Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. This law authorizes the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund and the Second Century Endowment Fund, two public-private partnerships that help preserve national parks.

These funds are making a difference, with the Centennial Challenge Fund having raised approximately $210 million so far to help address this backlog and an additional $23 million that was appropriated in the FY 2018 omnibus spending law that must be matched at least 1:1.

To date, the Centennial Challenge Fund has exceeded the matching requirement, raising $125.5 million in nonfederal dollars from $84.5 million in federal funding.

The Restore Our Parks Act and the National Park Service Centennial Act are helping preserve the resources that Portman — and so many Ohioans — enjoy visiting with friends and family, and he will continue working to protect our natural resources.