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Vice President Pence visits Yellowstone, touts infrastructure plan for national parks

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Vice President Mike Pence continued his visit to the west on Thursday, spending the day in Yellowstone National Park. The focus: taking care of the park.

When Pence and his entourage arrived at Old Faithful, they were greeted by several officials to get a sense of what goes on in Yellowstone.

New Facilities Director Duane Bubac, Fire Service Director John Cataldo and Interpretive Ranger Rebecca Rolland met with Pence and offered the vice president an insider look at the park.

“(There are) hundreds of miles of roads, hundreds of backcountry campsites, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure that have helped open up Yellowstone to the wider world,” said Pence. “It’s amazing to think of the impact this has had on the region and the enjoyment of the people of the United States of America.”

The topic in Yellowstone on this day was infrastructure.

“Across the park service, more than $12 billion of repairs are needed for roads, bridges, water systems, trails and more,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Old Faithful lived up to its name, putting on a show as Pence spoke to the crowd.

“We’ve actually proposed what will be known as the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund,” Pence said. “Under President Trump’s leadership, we will dedicate 50 percent from all of the revenues of all the leases on public lands to improve and maintain the infrastructure of our national parks.”

But after the talking was over, there was some work to do.

The infrastructure they discussed includes some of the boardwalks at Old Faithful that are starting to fall apart.

The vice president, joined by his wife Karen, Bernhardt and Sholly went to work with the Montana Conservation Corps volunteer crew to help repair some of it.

When asked about budget cuts to Interior, the vice president said the infrastructure proposal will be a solution.

“We believe that the combination of the investments that we are making is exactly the right level, but the historic investment that we will be making in maintenance by literally creating a funding stream for maintenance from our public leases, we believe will more than meet the maintenance  obligations of our national parks.”

Pence said the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund has broad support from both sides of the aisle back in Washington.

Pence noted he and his wife spent a week in Yellowstone several years ago on a family vacation. They return to Washington D.C., Thursday evening.

Story by Chet Layman, MTN News

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