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Trump's July 4 Extravaganza Siphons Money from National Parks

Fees paid by visitors at America's national parks Thursday will help fund President Donald Trump's Fourth of July "Salute to America" in Washington. (skeeze/pixabay)
Fees paid by visitors at America's national parks Thursday will help fund President Donald Trump's Fourth of July "Salute to America" in Washington. (skeeze/pixabay)
July 4, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The first ever "Salute to America," being staged by President Donald Trump in Washington this Fourth of July will divert $2.5 million from national parks that already have a $12 billion maintenance backlog.

Earlier this year, national parks lost $6 million in fee revenues due to the government shutdown.

Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, maintains diverting funds from parks for the event is a breach of trust with the public.

"Here again, we're diverting fees, and this time for something that just seems so outrageous and in no way aligns with what's in the best interest of protecting our national parks," she states.

In Minnesota alone, national parks need $17 million in infrastructure upgrades.

The Washington event will include a display of military hardware, including tanks and flyovers by fighter jets, as well as an address by the president and an expanded fireworks show.

Trump earlier floated a military parade on the Fourth of July or Veterans Day, inspired by parades on Bastille Day in France, but plans were scrapped when Washington, D.C. officials said it would cost upwards of $90 million.

The Trump administration has declined to say how much the extravaganza will cost taxpayers, but Pierno argues the national parks should not be a source of funds.

"They think $2.5 million isn't a lot, but when you add that to the $6 million that was already lost in fee revenue when the federal government shut down in December, this continues to compound the problem," she stresses.

Pierno says more than 400 park sites have crumbling roads, eroding trails, unsafe campgrounds, and visitor centers that need repairs.

"The reality is, when you pay your fees and you go into the national parks, I think everybody expects that they're going to be used as they're supposed to be used," Pierno states.

National parks are a huge source of income for states. For example, it's estimated that visitors to Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park spend more than $20 million each year.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN