WASHINGTON—During a visit to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (NHS), National Park Service Director Chuck Sams toured a $15.2 million construction project funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). The project to rehabilitate one of the park’s iconic buildings will allow for its continued public use and enjoyment. Overall, GAOA will provide national parks throughout the country with up to $6.5 billion over five years for investment in crucial infrastructure.
“The historic generational investments we are making in our national parks through Great American Outdoors Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are part of a concerted effort by the Biden-Harris Administration to address the extensive maintenance repair backlog in national parks,” said Sams. “By funding infrastructure needs, like the rehabilitation of this historic structure at Fort Vancouver, the Great American Outdoors Act provides for long term preservation, accessibility and enjoyment of our national parks for hundreds of millions of visitors each year.”
Many National Park Service facilities, including visitor centers, roads, trails, campgrounds, and utility systems, are aging and exceed the capacity for which they were designed. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA’s National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF) allocates up to $1.3 billion a year for five years to the National Park Service to address large scale infrastructure repair or replacement long delayed by budget constraints.
The rehabilitation work at Fort Vancouver NHS is one of approximately 120 construction projects in national parks that received LRF funding in 2021. Some are highly visible road repairs or campground improvements while others are often unseen but critical enhancements to electrical or sewer systems. Throughout the country, in more than 100 national parks, GAOA is supporting the long-term preservation and enjoyment of parks for current and future visitors.
“We are grateful for the funding that the park received from the Great American Outdoors Act,” said Fort Vancouver NHS Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. “The project will help advance the vision of adapting and modernizing this historic military post for ongoing use while commemorating its nationally significant past.”
The rehabilitation of Building 933 at Fort Vancouver focuses on safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency improvements for the 33,000 square foot structure. Constructed in 1907 as a double infantry barracks, the building will retain its historic character but undergo necessary upgrades and repairs. In the early 20th century, Vancouver Barracks was the Pacific Northwest’s central military base and increasing numbers of troops arriving at the post required new living facilities. The double infantry barracks built at Vancouver Barracks during this period were wood-frame, two-story buildings with basements on stone foundations that could accommodate up to 180 men.
The historic features of the building being preserved include its covered porches, pressed tin ceilings, plaster walls, columns, wood floors, and historic windows and doors. The work will include the addition of an elevator, seismic stabilization of the building, and modernization of water, sewer, electrical, telecommunications, and fire suppression systems. Outside, the parking area and pedestrian pathways will be upgraded to meet accessibility standards.
The restoration work began in the fall of 2021 and is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2023. The project will reduce more than $15 million in deferred maintenance associated with Building 993 and related site facilities. The park attracts more than one million visitors annually. In 2019, park visitors spent over $40 million in local businesses which supported 576 jobs and provided an overall economic benefit to local communities of almost $58 million.