Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt are scheduled to visit Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful area on Thursday to hold a press conference on the estimated $11.9 billion park maintenance backlog. The event is expected to be closed to the public with restricted press access.
“No amount of political photo ops will wipe away the Trump administration’s abysmal record on our nation’s prized national parks. If Vice President Pence, Senator Daines, and Secretary Bernhardt were being faithful in their commitment, their budget proposal would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is vital to parks like Yellowstone,” said Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger.
The Trump administration’s latest proposed budget slashes funding for the National Park Service by $494 million, fails to provide any funding to make parks whole after the historic government shutdown, which caused untold, lasting damage to both national parks and local economies, and nearly zeros out the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The National Park Service’s most recent estimate put Montana’s total national park maintenance backlog at nearly $326 million, with the Yellowstone National Park backlog approaching $585.5 million between Montana and Wyoming.
According to an analysis by Outside Magazine, the Trump administration’s budget suggests $910 million-per-year over the next five years, but the deferred maintenance backlog is growing at a rate of $275 million-per-year and the 2020 proposed budget cuts another $113 million-per-year from ongoing maintenance.
Through some creative accounting, the Trump budget proposal would only address one-third of the backlog over the next five years – hardly a solution to a growing problem.
While trumpeting for their parks proposal, the administration recommended nearly zeroing out the most important public access and parks program in America, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, in the last three budget proposals that Bernhardt supported. The program provides critical funding to enhance public lands and parks which has lost over one billion dollars in funding due to inaction.
Background on the Trump Administrations Abysmal Record on Parks and Public Lands Can Be Viewed HERE