The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 will fund a variety of needed projects at Joshua Tree National Park. Under the Recovery Act, Joshua Tree will receive $5.3 million to fund projects to improve park roads, trails, picnic and camping areas, and water storage systems. In addition, Recovery Act funds will be used to make safe numerous hazardous, abandoned mines found throughout the park’s backcountry.
The National Park Service received more than $750 million dollars of Recovery Act funds that will go toward more than 800 projects of lasting value across the entire National Park Service. “From the Civil War to the Great Depression, America’s best ideas for protecting our national parks and open spaces have often come when our nation has faced its greatest challenges,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Today, by investing $750 million to restore and protect America’s most special places, we are creating a new legacy of stewardship for our national park system while helping our economy stand up again. These projects—at places like Ellis Island in New York and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah—are ready to go and will create jobs in communities across the country.”
“Joshua Tree’s ability to document the park’s deferred maintenance needs, coupled with its proven track record of sound fiscal management, enabled the park to be selected to receive more than $5.3 million in ARRA funding”, said John Slaughter, Joshua Tree’s chief of maintenance. Of these funds, over $4.7 million will be spent through federal contracts for construction and environmental compliance, meeting one of the primary emphasis areas of the administration: to create jobs in the private sector. Recovery Act funds will be used to hire additional park staff as well as young men and women through the Youth Conservation Corps.
“The Recovery Act gives us a chance to move forward on a number of significant projects that will improve park facilities and visitor safety at Joshua Tree,” according to Superintendent Curt Sauer. “The funds will also create private- and public-sector jobs in an area of the state that has been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn.”
At Joshua Tree, many paved roads and parking areas will receive chip seal and slurry treatments designed to prolong their planned life. Park campsites will receive new fire pits and grills. Broken picnic tables and benches will be replaced, and some campsite surfaces will be hardened to allow for improved accessibility. Water storage tanks at Cottonwood and Black Rock will be cleaned and painted to resist corrosion and help meet state water quality standards. About half of the 1.5-mile Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail will be renovated to repair damaged sections of the trail. Numerous other park trails will see brush cleared, waterbars built, retaining walls and erosion-control features constructed, and disturbed areas replanted with native desert vegetation.
In addition, numerous abandoned mines in the park will have wildlife-friendly exclosures built to improve visitor safety while enhancing the value of the sites for bats and other wildlife.
Interested contractors and vendors should go to http://www.fbo.gov to find out more about opportunities to compete for ARRA funded projects. There is a link to specific opportunities. For a full list of projects funded by the Recovery Act visit http://recovery.doi.gov/nps.