ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – Rocky Mountain National Park is more than 100 years old, and it’s showing its age.
Holly Blosick and her friend came to the park on Thursday and had to don some rain gear.
“We’re here on vacation, so the rain wasn’t going to stop us,” Blosick told CBS4.
“It’s beautiful Colorado. Like, we don’t have this stuff back home.”
She’s among the 4.5 million visitors to the park every year. And all those tourists are taking a toll on the park.
“So we have roads and we have trails, buildings, water lines (in need of repairs),” said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.
Patterson says they increased fees this summer by $5 to $10 to help with the maintenance costs. Among the long overdue upkeep is replacing miles of corroded water pipes.
There are also decades-old buildings that need help, incomplete fire mitigation projects and miles of roads in need of improvements.
PHOTO GALLERY: Rocky Mountain National Park
“We’ve seen our visitation increase 40 percent in the last six years, so with that we’re seeing a lot of wear and tear on our trail system,” Patterson said.
Sen. Cory Gardner is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress aimed at providing more funding for such projects.
“This is an opportunity for us to fund that backlog,” Gardner said. “As our national parks are being utilized in some cases they’re being loved to death. And so in order to keep up with the usage of the parks we have to make sure that the funds keep up with them.”
Nationwide there’s a $12 billion maintenance backlog at national parks. At Rocky Mountain National Park it’s estimated at $84 million.
The bill would direct up to $1.3 billion per year for the next five years from on- and off-shore energy development towards restoration.
Like Blosick told CBS4, “if you just let them go, people aren’t going to come to them anymore.”