Congress focuses on improving infrastructure

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Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stressed the need for 21st century infrastructure in the nation’s land and waterways last week as he testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources regarding the fiscal year 2018 budget, which Congress is now developing.

During the hearing, Zinke repeatedly talked about the need to update transportation infrastructure on public lands, as well as efforts to reduce the Department’s multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog.

Zinke suggested that the backlog could be addressed if parks charged entry fees, saying “about half the parks don’t charge anything.”

Representative Garrett Graves, R-La., who is also a Congressional Boating Caucus member, called attention to the support for public lands and waters provided by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

That allows 80 percent of recreation fees to be retained at the site where they are generated.

He contrasted this approach with the 50/50 split between states and the federal government of revenues generated by offshore energy production.