New analysis: Trump budget includes a huge giveaway to owners of hotels in national parks

Mar 20, 2017


MARCH 20, 2017

National Park Service maintenance backlog contains $389 million that should be paid by concessionaires, not taxpayers

DENVER—The Center for Western Priorities released a new analysis of the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog, revealing hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance that should be the responsibility of private hotel owners and concessionaires, not taxpayers. That backlog of private maintenance costs could become a corporate windfall if President Trump’s budget proposal becomes law.

Investing in our national parks is critical, but the president’s budget blueprint uses an inflated and misleading maintenance backlog figure as an excuse to defund the rest of our public lands. The NPS maintenance backlog, which, while adding up to nearly $12 billion on paper, actually contains around $1.3 billion in priority park maintenance projects, according to a recent investigation by the Center for American Progress.

“The ‘skinny budget’ is a double giveaway,” said Aaron Weiss, media director at the Center for Western Priorities. “If President Trump gets anything close to his budget wishes, he will clear the way for trophy homes inside our national parks, while sending money instead to private hotel owners who ought to be paying for their own deferred maintenance projects.”

Trump’s budget proposal calls for slashing funds for land acquisition programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund by $120 million. LWCF, which is widely known as America’s most important parks program, is the only way for owners of “inholdings” within our national parks to sell their land to the American people, making our parks and public lands whole.

CWP’s analysis of the maintenance backlog found nearly 5,000 line items for deferred private maintenance across 72 national park system units, adding up to $389 million in deferred maintenance that is, according to park concessionaire contracts, supposed to be performed by the concessionaire.

At Yosemite alone, the main building of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee Hotel) has $31 million in critical maintenance needs‚ more than half of the critical backlog at the entire park.

The top 10 parks with deferred private maintenance include:

ParkPrivate maintenance projectsTotal deferred private maintenance
Yosemite National Park476$74,780,252
Yellowstone National Park904$68,085,479
Grand Teton National Park528$25,808,056
Gateway National Recreation Area129$24,457,177
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area177$22,528,634
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area19$19,599,350
Glacier National Park182$18,652,996
Mount Rainier National Park8$14,174,000
Oregon Caves National Monument2$12,721,847

An embeddable map of all 72 park units with deferred private maintenance is available online. Summary data is also available for download. Full data from CWP’s analysis of the park service maintenance backlog is available to reporters on request.

For more information, visit To speak with an expert on public lands, contact Aaron Weiss at 720-279-0019 or