President Trump has been quietly building one of the biggest conservation legacies of any president. Of course, don’t ask environmentalists on the left. They still refuse to give him any credit. Despite that, the president has committed to restoring and rehabilitating America’s national parks, which have been neglected for years.
The Interior Department recently announced that $256 million in funding for various infrastructure projects will take place in 22 parks. This includes Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and the Great Smoky Mountains. There is currently an $11.6 billion maintenance backlog for national parks.
“While Mr. Trump, a native New Yorker who built a real estate empire with luxury hotels and resorts, isn’t necessarily known for communing with nature, his decision to prioritize repairs to the national park system does jibe with his appreciation for grandeur and insistence on high-quality surroundings.
“’The President is a builder, he loves to build and he loves our National Parks, so it is a natural fit that the Administration is dedicating so much attention to rebuilding our aging parks infrastructure,’ Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday in a written statement.
“Projects covered by the funding include overhauling the visitor center at Mount Rushmore, rehabilitating wastewater systems at Yellowstone and the Great Smoky Mountains national parks, and repairing flood damage to the Scotty’s Castle visitor center in Death Valley National Park.”
“It’s another step toward prioritizing infrastructure because it is an investment that bolsters local economies and gateway communities,” Secretary Zinke said. “And it is another step in prioritizing access for all Americans to our public lands.”
Even though this should be seen as a big win for environmentalists, they still refuse to give them credit. In fact, former Obama official Matt Lee-Ashley, who now works at the Center for American Progress says President Trump might be too committed to national parks.
“The Trump administration seems solely focused on the national parks at the expense of investments in the management of other public lands that Americans also use frequently, like national forests,” Mr. Lee-Ashley said recently.
Other environmentalists have tried to make this big funding boost about politics:
“Environmentalists have accused Mr. Zinke of giving a home-state advantage to Montana by prioritizing $12 million for reconstruction of Glacier National Park’s Sperry Chalet, which was consumed by wildfire last year.
“’Rebuilding the Sperry Chalet is surely important, but it’s hard to see how it’s more urgent than fixing the drinking water system in the Grand Canyon,’ said Mr. Lee-Ashley. ‘It looks like Secretary Zinke may be rearranging the priority of maintenance needs in the national parks to score some political points back home.’”
But I guess you just can’t please everyone.