Donald Trump on Monday donated a little more than two month’s worth of his salary – or $78,333 – to the National Park Service.
To show what a generous and great man he is, the president had his press secretary, Sean Spicer, present an oversized check to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the start of Monday’s White House briefing.
Had Trump not turned the donation into a publicity stunt and had it not come after the president recently called for gutting the budget of Department of the Interior, which manages national parks, one might even be fooled into thinking the offer was sincere.
But his $78,333 won’t cover but a fraction of the money the Park Service stands to lose if Congress does not alter Trump’s budget, which currently includes a 12 percent cut to the Department of the Interior. That amounts to about $1.5 billion.
It’s just more bad news for the parks, which already have a staggering $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance needs hanging over them. Add on top of that Trump’s executive orders that have rolled back anti-pollution regulations, the president’s denial of climate change and his mission to eliminate funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, and the parks – just like the environment as a whole – are facing serious threats.
For more than 100 years the Park Service has been tasked with protecting our most valued natural and cultural sites, places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone, but if the deferred maintenance is not addressed and the parks are not properly funded and protected, it is doubtful they will be around for the general public to enjoy in another 100 years. Maybe that’s what Trump and the Republicans want anyway. The parks will fall into disrepair and then privatization will come next. Can you see it? A majestic Trump hotel at Yellowstone.
Our national parks – which were visited by more than 330 million people last year – are national treasures, and they must be protected. A big, fake check from Trump is not the answer and we are hopeful members of Congress will see that.