Yellowstone, Grand Teton would see boost under proposed budget

Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks could benefit from spending increases in a budget proposal released Monday by President Barack Obama that calls for an additional $432.9 million for the National Park Service in 2016, much of which would be spent to repair facilities and infrastructure in national parks for the 2016 centennial of the Park Service.

While the budget proposal is almost certainly dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Congress, the nation’s parks could see some bipartisan support for a plan that would benefit more than 400 Park Service properties spread across the country.

A major portion of the requested budget increase includes more than $242 million that would be devoted to operations and construction accounts for restoration and maintenance projects.

In Yellowstone National Park, that includes $9.4 million that would pay for seismic stabilization of the lobby, map room and other portions of the historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

For Grand Teton National Park, $15.4 million would be allocated toward a major project to upgrade drinking water and sewage facilities in Moose, where the park’s headquarters are located.

During a series of federal budget adjustments under the sequester, the National Park Service saw its operating budget fall by 13 percent over the prior three years, with a cut to its 2013 construction budget of 69 percent, based on figures from the National Parks Conservation Association.

Grand Teton Superintendent David Vela said in a statement released Monday that the proposed budget focus on centennial projects “is really the cornerstone for the next 100 years of stewardship of America’s natural, cultural and historic resources, and it highlights the importance of investing in these treasured resources for the benefit of future generations.”

Vela said another key point of the proposed budget was $40 million in federal matching dollars for programs with charitable partners that would help fund centennial projects.

“At Grand Teton we are currently engaged in a significant public-private partnership project with our Grand Teton National Park Foundation to renew, rehabilitate and address deferred maintenance at Jenny Lake, the most popular destination in the park,” he said.

At the North Gate to Yellowstone National Park, community leaders in Gardiner, Mont. are working on a project that will reconfigure the park entrance to alleviate traffic congestion, along with a series of other initiatives to spruce up and develop the downtown, which abuts the parks northern boundary.

Yellowstone superintendent Steve Iobst said the budget proposal was “important to Yellowstone and the entire National Park Service.”

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].

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