Mount Rainier NP officials say park has nearly $300 million maintenance backlog

Mount Rainier National Park has nearly $300 million in deferred infrastructure maintenance, according to a statement released by the park Thursday morning.

Rainier’s backlog is part of the National Park Service’s $11.49 billion total. The park service is requesting its non-transportation budget increase by nearly $243 million to help reduce the backlog. The National Park Service receives some funding for roads projects from the Federal Lands Transportation Program.

About 75 percent of Rainier’s backlog is from roads and the rest is from structures, trails and campgrounds. The National Park Services defines deferred maintenance as “necessary work on infrastructure … that has been put off for more than a year.”

“If funded, the National Park Service’s 2016 budget request will allow us to restore several of our highest priority non-transportation assets to good condition,” Mount Rainier National Park’s superintendent Randy King said in a prepared statement. “An example of an important project this funding would enable at Mount Rainier is the rehabilitation and seismic stabilization of the historic Paradise Inn Annex, built in 1921.”

The park service celebrates its centennial in 2016 and is raising entrance fees this year.

“We are inviting the world to discover the special places in the National Park System, like Mount Rainier National Park, during our centennial celebration,” King said. “We need to have facilities that can accommodate guests and provide the best possible visitor experience.”

With the transportation funding set to expire in May, President Barrack Obama’s proposed transportation bill includes $150 million for projects on federal and tribal land.

“President Obama’s proposal to fund nationally significant transportation projects could address some of the National Park Service’s large, critical deferred maintenance transportation projects,” King said. “Completing those projects would pave the way for many of the hundreds of millions of visitors that come to national parks each year. The recent rehabilitation of 10 miles of the Stevens Canyon Road, and the ongoing work to rehabilitate the 17-mile Nisqually Road to Paradise, are examples of critical transportation projects needed at Mount Rainier.”