His­toric sites and parks al­ready feel the im­pact of de­ferred main­te­nance

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Join the de­bate at wash­ing­ton­post.com/lo­cal-opin­ions

Re­gard­ing the July 10 front-page ar­ti­cle “Me­mo­ri­als wait for wa­ter to gush again”:

For more than a cen­tury, the Mall in our na­tion’s cap­i­tal has served a dual role as a tourist des­ti­na­tion and the premier place for the ex­pres­sion of demo­cratic ideas. The fact that our Mall suf­fers from $850 mil­lion in de­ferred-main­te­nance needs is a stark in­di­ca­tor of a back­log that also af­fects the cul­tural and his­toric sites in the Na­tional Park Sys­tem.

Among them are the 30 es­tab­lished to com­mem­o­rate some as­pect of the African Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence. Sites such as the Maggie L. Walker Na­tional His­toric Site in Rich­mond; the Charles Young Buf­falo Sol­diers Na­tional Mon­u­ment in Wil­ber­force, Ohio; and the D.C. home of Carter G. Wood­son, founder of the As­so­ci­a­tion for the Study of African Amer­i­can Life and His­tory (of which I am pres­i­dent), are all sub­ject to the rav­ages of de­ferred main­te­nance.

Re­cently, a bi­par­ti­san group of law­mak­ers in the House and Se­nate in­tro­duced the Na­tional Park Ser­vice Legacy Act, which would pro­vide the Park Ser­vice with up to $500 mil­lion a year to make re­pairs.

The sum­mer travel sea­son is upon us, and mil­lions of vis­i­tors will flock to our na­tional parks for re­cre­ation, ed­u­ca­tion and in­spi­ra­tion. Let’s en­sure their ex­pe­ri­ence is a su­perla­tive one.

Eve­lyn Brooks Hig­gin­botham,

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