March 2nd is Mount Rainier National Park’s 120th anniversary. The famed naturalist John Muir first visited the mountain in 1888, recommending it be preserved as a park.
In 1899 President McKinley signed legislation creating Mount Rainier National Park, the fifth national park designated by Congress.
We have 15 national parks in Washington. They provide history, recreation and economic opportunities and benefits. In 2017, more than 8 million visitors enjoyed them and spent $507.8 million in local communities.
However, the parks need help. There is an infrastructure repair backlog estimated at $11.6 billion nationally and $398 million in Washington ($175 million at Mount Rainier).
This includes crucial repairs to aging historical structures and miles of trails and roads, bridges, tunnels, sewers, drainage and other vital infrastructure.
There is momentum in Congress to fix our parks. The effort is led by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, as sponsor of HR 1225 - Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act.
It would be a great anniversary gift if all other members of Washington’s congressional delegation would cosponsor this critical legislation.
Sean Smith, Covington