Despite a slashed budget by the Trump administration for American National Parks, Secretary Ryan Zinke and the U.S. Department of the Interior announced over $50 million in National Parks funding last weekend.
As part of the Centennial Challenge program, Zinke and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner announced the partnership that would aid the funding of vital maintenance and infrastructure projects that would benefit 42 parks across 29 states.
The package is set to contain $20 million from Congress matched with $33 million in funding from strategic park partners that among improvements, will increase access to the proposed 42 National Parks.
“Our national parks span twelve time zones and attract more than 330 million visitors every year. Some locations, like Rocky Mountain National Park, attract millions of visitors alone. This puts an incredible stress on the aging infrastructure at our parks and thanks to Centennial Grants and the generosity of public-private partners, we are able to distribute funds to rebuild our parks,” said Secretary Zinke. “Using public-private partnerships to help address the deferred maintenance backlog remains a priority for the Department and the Trump Administration. Park infrastructure includes trails, signage, restrooms, lodges, roads, bridges and waterlines. These funds will help us continue to provide a world-class experience to visitors and ensure that these amazing places are around for future generations.”
Among the benefiting parks, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is set to receive $200,000 in federal funding matched by an additional $200,000 from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. The influx of funding at Rocky Mountain National Park is earmarked to help the park catch up on the lagging maintenance plaguing the Alluvial Fan Trail.
Today, I stood alongside Secretary Zinke as he announced critical funding grants for Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park,” said Senator Cory Gardner. “We must continue to be good stewards of our National Parks and protect these treasures for future generations. I want to thank Secretary Zinke for highlighting a crown jewel of Colorado’s public lands, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the dedicated Park employees that care for this land every day.”
Through the Centennial Challenge program, the National Park Service has leveraged over $45 million in congressional funding and has attracted more than $77 million from partnerships since 2015.
“Many of the national parks that Americans treasure today would simply not exist without the strong partnerships and philanthropy that have benefited the national park idea for over a century,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “The Centennial Challenge program continues that proud tradition by matching dollars from Congress with generous donations from dedicated partners to make high-impact improvements in parks.”