Alexander announces funding for Smokies, National Parks

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said recently the Interior appropriations bill he co-authored and that was approved by the Appropriations Committee will fund a number of conservation efforts across Tennessee, including increased funding for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other national parks, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and several water and wastewater projects in Tennessee communities.

The bill would provide $20.4 million in base operations funding for the Smokies, an increase of $1 million over last year.

“It’s my privilege to serve as ranking member for the Interior Subcommittee, especially considering that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Alexander, who is the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which funds national parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Funding in this bill will help improve and preserve many aspects of our great American outdoors, both in Tennessee and across the country.”

The full Senate must now consider the bill.

The Fiscal Year 2010 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes:

• $1.5 million for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for historical collection research and preservation. Funding would be used to construct a new facility to preserve historic artifacts and documents from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The current facility is rented by the park, does not adequately protect artifacts and is located an hour drive away.

• $340,000 for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to improve infrastructure at the Cosby recreation area. Funding would be used to help replace 50-year-old water-production equipment – building a new 30,000-gallon aboveground reservoir, 10,300 linear feet of new distribution system piping, new valves and the installation of fire hydrants. Unlike the current equipment, these new components will meet all state and federal standards.

• $1.6 million for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to improve infrastructure at the Tremont educational area. Funding would be used to replace deteriorating water and wastewater systems at the Institute at Tremont. These systems are located next to the Little River and untreated water is polluting the river. The project would bring the systems into compliance with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation regulations.

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