The primary purpose of the Great American Outdoors Act National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund is to invest in deferred maintenance and repair (DM&R) projects. DM&R is a maintenance and repair activity that was not performed when it should have been or was scheduled to be and is delayed to a future period. Typically, required maintenance or repair needs are deferred due to a lack of funding or available workforce. Deferring maintenance or repair activities over time can make assets, such as buildings, trails, and campsites, unsafe or unusable for staff and visitors.
The total Department of the Interior DM&R is estimated at almost $30 billion and continues to grow every year.
The Department of the Interior (DOI, Interior Department) manages 20 percent of the Nation’s lands and waters, including:
DOI also manages the things that have been constructed on public lands and waters — our assets. Interior is responsible for taking care of its assets to ensure visitors have a welcoming, safe, and enjoyable experience; to protect wildlife and the natural environment; and to preserve natural and cultural resources for this and future generations.
Monuments, marinas, roads, cemeteries, utilities, bridges, Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools, picnic areas, employee housing, entrance stations, campgrounds, trails…these are just a few examples of the many types of assets DOI maintains so that we can successfully host millions of visitors each year on our public lands.
Asset Portfolio by Categories for GAOA Bureaus
The four DOI bureaus that receive GAOA LRF funding collectively manage a portfolio of over 100,000 assets. These assets are divided into seven broad categories: Recreational Assets, Mission Support and Administrative Assets, Housing, Transportation Assets, Schools & Associated Buildings, Non-Transportation Infrastructure, and All Other Assets. Learn more about these asset categories on the Projects page.
Maintenance activities help achieve an asset's originally anticipated life. To understand how DOI maintains its assets, consider a single asset such as a footbridge. Wooden bridges are plentiful on trails that crisscross our public lands, helping hikers cross streams and other obstacles.
Since it is a Departmental asset, DOI must properly maintain the footbridge. We do this by:
In the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Cruces District, two access road repair projects were completed with funding from the Great American Outdoors Act. Repairs involved rebuilding embankments where erosion had occurred and reconstructing water crossings. The projects resolved safety issues and ensured public visitors and government agency employees can access the public lands via the reconstructed roads.
As the condition of an asset and the location’s needs change over time, other types of management actions may be required, including:
In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the National Park Service is completing a $2 million Great American Outdoors Act project to remove 33 vacant structures and restore the land as forest. Some of the structures posed a safety hazard. The removal of the buildings eliminated more than $7 million of maintenance backlog.
When DOI does not receive enough funding to pay for all the maintenance and repairs that its assets require at the time these needs are identified, work may get pushed off, or deferred, until later due to budget constraints. The list of unfunded asset management needs is the DM&R backlog.
Infrastructure that is not properly cared for with scheduled maintenance and timely repair work can become unsightly, unsafe, more susceptible to damage, and can deteriorate more quickly. Deferring maintenance may increase the cost to maintain an asset over its lifetime.
The following heat map displays the amount (by dollar value) of DM&R backlog per state for all DOI bureaus receiving GAOA funding. The darker the color, the higher the cumulative DM&R cost.
Heat Map of Deferred Maintenance and Repair Backlog for DOI Bureaus
The Great American Outdoors Act is directing up to $8.1 billion over five years (Fiscal Years 2021 through 2025) toward deferred maintenance and repair activity.
GAOA funding alone cannot resolve all the Interior Department’s lifecycle management needs. Even with the largest public lands infrastructure investment in history, routine maintenance and repair needs continue to outpace available funding. However, LRF is an essential part of DOI’s concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog.
Click an icon below to explore a bureau GAOA website.