CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lawmakers, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, on Tuesday questioned federal officials about the backlog of deferred maintenance projects at federal lands.
Manchin, D-W.Va., and other members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources participated in the hearing. According to members, the combined backlog of deferred maintenance needs from all land-management agencies has accumulated to $19 billion.
West Virginia’s senior senator said the National Parks Service has deferred almost $60 million worth of deferred projects in West Virginia, the U.S. Forest Service has deferred more than $36 million in maintenance efforts in the state, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has a backlog of $7 million in work.
“It is clear it cannot be addressed solely through the regular appropriations process,” he said.
Manchin added it is important to prevent future backlogs from developing; he compared the situation to his time as governor, saying agencies had to find a way to address pressing maintenance problems before receiving funding for new projects and efforts.
“Maintenance funding was never built in their budget. Everything but maintenance funding was built in the budget,” he said.
Manchin has cosponsored the Restore Our Parks Act, which would provide $6.5 billion over five years for funding needs with national parks.