Commentary: The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing today on infrastructure needs and management accountability at the National Park Service (NPS) and Forest Service.
“The Forest Service’s maintenance backlog continues to increase as the agency fails to maintain our forests. The National Park Service’s failed leadership and growing land portfolio are main drivers of the maintenance backlog. In the past, forest roads were managed in part by timber sales, but without appropriate management, the agency has simply denied access to these roads all together. We see this first hand in Sierra County, where the community faces a devastating economic outlook due to the Forest Service’s management plan. The plan imposes economic hardships on farmers, ranchers, recreationalists, and timber producers that are the economic engines for that region. Now more than ever, the Forest Service needs to reassess their processes and procedures, and address the needs of the surrounding communities that are affected by their actions,” stated Rep. Pearce.
Carlsbad Caverns National park is one of the most enchanting sites in the nation, let alone the State, and contributes greatly to the local economy of Carlsbad. The National Park Service is responsible for the maintenance of these caverns, including the elevators that are heavily relied upon for access. These elevators have continuously broken down and NPS has failed to address persistent issue. Rep. Pearce remains a vocal advocate for a permanent solution:
“My office has met with the park service at Carlsbad Caverns multiple times regarding the continuous issues with the elevators, and they admit that the issue is not due to a lack of funding, but an absence of future planning and slow-moving processes. When the elevators initially broke down, NPS did not initiate a plan to get them up and running. We saw this in 2015 when both sets of elevators broke with no plan in place to fix either of them and in 2010 when a 9-month project took 22 months and ended up greatly exceeding its budget, eventually costing 5.2 million dollars. The caverns are vital to the health of the economy in Carlsbad, and the park service must review their processes and start planning ahead to ensure that these types of issues do not happen again.”