JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is an $11.6 billion backlog of maintenance projects at national parks across the country, including Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville.
Millions of dollars in preservation and restoration projects are needed for the main house and cabins. The money is also needed for tree maintenance and flooding damage.
Park Ranger Emily Palmer said she and other crews who work at Kingsley Plantation do their best to maintain the national park. But it continues to lose pieces of history due to a lack of funding.
"I want to see it protected. I want to see it standing," Palmer said. "I wear this badge because I'm in charge of protecting history."
The homes were built in the late 1700s. Slaves lived in tabby cabins, which are in disrepair.
Palmer gave a tour around Kingsley Plantation to show people why funding the parks are important to preserving the buildings and the history behind them. The park offers a unique learning experience for students.
"We grow Sea Island cotton here; we cut it and have the kids participate in tactile learning," Palmer said.
Congressman John Rutherford said he's pushing for action and is cosponsoring the Legacy Act to find a funding stream to support state parks. He said there is a return on investment for the economy, and increased efforts would create more jobs.
Rutherford hopes to create more public-private partnerships to maintain national parks.