The Great American Outdoors Act to help with needs at the Chickamauga, Chattanooga Military Park

FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga. (WDEF) – Cracks fill Poe Road at the Chickamauga, Chattanooga Military Park.

It’s in need of maintenance, but it’s not the only thing.

In fact, the historic park has a backlog of deferred maintenance needs.

“There is about 30 million total. So to be able to knock half of that total off over the next few years is pretty major,” National Parks Partners Executive Director Tricia Mims said.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act.

The bipartisan legislation will help address needs at national parks and forests.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, (R-Tenn.) co-sponsored the bill.

“I am proud to have co-sponsored the Great American Outdoors Act to preserve Tennessee’s beauty for generations to come. Our national parks will finally have funding to complete deferred maintenance projects that are currently backlogged, creating much-needed jobs,” he said in a tweet.

It was already passed by the Senate.

Senator Lamar Alexander, (R-Tenn.) had been pushing for this for at least the past two years.

“For Tennessee it means cutting in half the 220 million dollar backlog at the Great Smoky Mountains. Cherokee National Forest which has 3 million visitors a year, it will cut in half the backlog on restoring the trails and roads,” Sen. Alexander said on Twitter.

Tricia Mims is the Executive Director of National Parks Partners.

The private non-profit supports the Chickamauga, Chattanooga Military Park.

She said that the act will bring in to the park around 15 million dollars over the next few years.

“We’re just thrilled that there’s going to be such a major investment. It’s really the first major investment in our national parks since the 50’s,” Mims said.

The military park covers over 9,000 acres, holds Civil War battlefields and over 1,700 commemorative features.

On average, it brings in a million visitors every year.

“When they’re maintained well and they’re well kept it just really creates a sense of pride. It will help tourism, again, right now especially, our parks are very important,” Chattanooga Tourism Company President & CEO Barry White said.

The park’s superintendent Brad Bennett said in a statement that resurfacing projects for roads take the majority of their backlog.

“The National Park Service maintains more than 25 miles of paved roads within Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Resurfacing projects for this road network comprise the majority of the park’s $30 million dollars of backlogged maintenance needs, along with repairs to historic structures and other facilities. Repaving park roads will improve the experience of 1 million annual visitors who explore the landscapes of the 1863 Civil War battles and access more than 80 miles of hiking, bicycling, and equestrian trails.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News