By Eric Freedman
I recently beat Ivanka Trump to Rocky Mountain National Park by a few days, but our purposes for being there were dramatically different.
For Trump, the 358-square-mile natural treasure was a mere backdrop to laud embattled U.S. Sen. Corey Gardner, the Colorado Republican who successfully sponsored legislation to provide more funding for the cash-strapped national park system and other federal lands. He’s up for reelection against John Hickenlooper, a former Democratic governor.
Congressional passage of the bipartisan money bill provided a time peg for the visit by the president’s daughter and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
Trump said in a statement from the White House, “Working with Sen. Gardner on the Great American Outdoors Act, we are securing funding for the next 100 years to preserve our national parks and public lands.”
The spending bill is intended to reduce a massive backlog of maintenance projects for the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. It also will provide permanent and full support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Last year, the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit research organization, reported an $11.9 billion maintenance backlog at national parks. That figure did not include the cost of maintenance backlogs at the other federal agencies that will benefit from the new funding. Continue reading