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Bill Would Address National Park Repair Backlog

Grand Canyon
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
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editorial | staff | This photo is in our library - TMAX 7/22/19
The Grand Canyon.

The Interior Secretary plans to visit the Grand Canyon on Saturday to bring attention to the need to fix national parks.

The National Park Service has a $12 billion backlog of maintenance projects. The list includes bridge, road and trail repairs, fixing toilets so they flush at the visitors center. But by far the most expensive project in all the parks is making sure drinking water flows to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. More than 6 million people visited the park in 2017. More visitation means more wear and tear. 

Secretary Ryan Zinke is calling on Congress to funnel existing revenue the government receives from energy development to the parks under a bipartisan bill called "Restore Our Parks."

Several environmentalists plan to greet Zinke at the Grand Canyon to protest his rollback of national land protections and other actions that favor the extraction industry over wilderness conservation.

Known as “the informer” among her siblings, Laurel Morales came by reporting naturally.She’s been a public radio reporter since 1998, cutting tape with a razor blade at KQED’s California Report. She traded in her flip-flops for snow boots to work for Minnesota Public Radio, where she received her first digital recorder. But Morales has spent most of her career in northern Arizona where she’s had the honor to witness a Miss Navajo sheep butchering contest, a Havasupai medicine woman’s ceremony, and a group of blind teens hike the Grand Canyon.She joined KJZZ’s Fronteras Desk in 2011. In 2017, Morales produced a multi-platform project called Earth+Bone about what tribes believe to be sacred and what Westerners consider fair game. She’s won several awards for her work, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award for her continuing coverage of the Yarnell Hill Fire. She earned her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.