(NBC) - National parks across the country are facing serious wear and tear, with much-needed repairs and maintenance postponed for lack of funds.
(Photo Courtesy: CNN VAN)
"The importance of Grand Canyon National Park to this region, it's hard to overstate it it's essential to this region," says Danny Giovale, of Kahtoola Microspikes.
Like thousands of other business owners in this part of the southwest, Giovale knows the Grand Canyon is critical to this economy.
"People come from around the world. We have over five million visitors a year," Giovale said.
National parks like the Grand Canyon not only protect very special natural resources, they're also economic assets, generating about $18 billion every year for local communities. And these assets always need maintenance and repairs.
"The park is a well-worn, well-used, well-loved place that could use a lot of help with some of the deferred maintenance, absolutely," Giovale said.
National parks have a long list of repairs and maintenance being postponed every year because necessary budgets have not been approved by Congress.
"Our road systems and our facility infrastructure systems were installed many years ago, and over time we've just not been able to focus on delivering the services needed to maintain those systems. But here on the Grand Canyon, our primary issue that we have to deal with is the Trans-Canyon Pipeline," says Don Curnett, of the National Park Service.
"We gravity-feed 1.2 million gallons a day across the Grand Canyon through 16 miles of aluminum pipe. And it's 50-plus years old, and it's starting to wear out. Some years, I've seen it break upwards of 20 times," Koenig said.
The water system here is essential to providing services for park visitors. But without the budget to pay for them, the repairs it needs remain on the list of deferred maintenance, a growing backlog for national parks across the country that's now estimated at $11 billion.