Vice President says national parks have hundreds of millions of dollars in backlogged maintenance

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Vice President Mike Pence helps screw down boards on the Old Faithful boardwalk. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — The Vice President says United States national parks have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of backlogged maintenance.

During Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen’s visit to Yellowstone National Park Thursday, he said he is determined to preserve all of the country’s national parks for this and future generations. He later said the national parks, including Yellowstone, have hundreds of millions of dollars of backlogged maintenance.

“But our administration has proposed a new fund,” Pence told reporters.

The Public Lands Infrastructure Fund would take 50 percent of the revenue the federal government receives from leasing public lands to energy companies and put it into the national park system.

“Hopefully, with the (Secretary of the Interior’s) hard work and the president’s efforts and the support of people in both parties, we’ll get that bill to the president’s desk. And we’ll have even more resources to clear that backlog and make sure that Yellowstone and all our national parks are pristine and accessible for millions of Americans for generations to come,” Pence said.

The fund is part of President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget proposal which allocates $12.6 billion to the Department of the Interior.

“It is a dedicated, mandatory funding stream, which is significant,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said.

RELATED: Vice President Pence visits Yellowstone National Park

Bernhardt accompanied Pence on his visit to Yellowstone National Park.

According to the Department of the Interior’s website, the fund would set aside up to $1.3 billion per year, capped at $6.5 billion over five years.

As well as helping fund infrastructure needs in the national parks, it will also go to national wildlife refuges, lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and to Bureau of Indian Education schools.

“We believe the combination of investments we’re making is exactly the right level,” Pence said. “By literally creating a funding stream for maintenance from our public leases, we believe we’ll more than meet the maintenance obligations of our national parks.”

Pence said he and the president respect the work states are doing to preserve state parks. Idaho has 27 state parks.

“Partnering with our states to make sure that we do our part to preserve our national parks even while we make it more possible for states to make those beautiful state parks, like back in my home state of Indiana, accessible and usable,” he said.

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