Gear Up for National Parks and the Great American Outdoors Act

DATE PUBLISHED: Aug 6, 2021 

Eielson National Park Visitor Center, Alaska

During the pandemic year, Americans rediscovered their love of the outdoors—embracing the strong connection between wellbeing and nature. Sites like the Denali National Park and the Eielson Visitor Center anticipate the arrival of more guests than usual as parks more fully open this post-pandemic year.

The candid photo of the bear (above) enjoying the view from the Eielson Visitor Center in Denali, Alaska was a relatively common sight when the RIM crew was working there. Special precautions and regulations are in place to protect the bears and other wildlife, as well as park visitors.

Eielson National Park Visitor Center, Alaska

The landmark Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), enacted in 2020, will provide $9.5 billion over five years to fund national park programs and conservation projects across the county. The bulk of this funding, up to $6.65 billion total, will go to the National Park Services (NPS) as well as other funding sources for the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). Today, the NPS manages more than 400 sites, and its backlog of maintenance repairs is estimated at $13 billion. While the GAOA funding will address a significant amount of deferred maintenance, it will not cover the entire backlog of park repairs.

The Associated Press called the GAOA “the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century,” The initial funding will pay for more than 30 improvement projects at the nation’s most visited parks—those benefiting the greatest number of visitors. In future years, the funding will spread to smaller parks.

United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Sacramento Northwestern Region Visitor Center

Since 1998, RIM has completed more than 200 NPS projects as well as other Visitor Centers for the FWS. Project examples vary from well-known sites like Denali National Park Visitor Center to other unique projects for FWS such as the Tule Lake Visitors Center near the border of California and Oregon. With a portfolio that includes more than 50 national parks and national wildlife refuge centers, RIM’s park projects range from remote sites in Katmai, Alaska and Pacific Islands to more accessible locations such as Muir Woods and the Presidio at San Francisco, Mt. Rainier near Seattle, and Crater Lake in southern Oregon.

For each of these projects, RIM focused on incorporating sustainable design features. Sustainable design results in facilities with long-term benefits of resource efficiency, resiliency, and environmental protection, for current and future generations, lessening the impact on natural resources and honoring them.