Dear Editor, May 29 marked the 62nd anniversary of Fort Clatsop’s entrance into the National Park System.

What began in 1958 as the Fort Clatsop National Memorial is now the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, and incudes sites of importance to the Corps of Discovery Expedition.

The park is a cultural and historic treasure, as well as an important economic engine for Clatsop County. According to the National Park Service (NPS), in 2018 Lewis and Clark hosted 286,000 park visitors who spent an estimated $16.9 million in surrounding communities.

Those expenditures supported a total of 235 jobs.

However, age and visitation can take a toll on NPS sites. Lewis and Clark is no exception, with a deferred maintenance backlog of nearly $6 million.

Systemwide, NPS is struggling with a nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog, including crumbling roads, deteriorating historic buildings, rundown trails, and outdated water, sewer and electrical systems.

Congress can help by passing the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422). The bill will help address priority repairs in our national parks and on other public lands, by directing up to $9.5 billion over five years to address maintenance needs.

This bill can help Lewis and Clark provide a safe, informative and enjoyable visitor experience for years to come. Preserving national parks helps drive our tourism economy and preserves our heritage, which is a win-win.

Congress should celebrate this anniversary of Lewis and Clark by passing the Great American Outdoors Act.

Lianne Thompson

Clatsop County Commissioner

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