US Secretary of the Interior visits Colorado, talks national parks infrastructure

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jul 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-22 21:07:41-04

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK -- U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner announced Saturday that the National Park Service is teaming up with partners across the nation to distribute more than $50 million in maintenance and infrastructure projects at 42 parks in 29 states.

Rocky Mountain National Park is on that list.

Secretary Zinke spoke to reporters on the Alluvial Fan Trail which sits just a few miles from one of the entrances of the park. That trail needs a lot of work with much of it washed away by floods.

The Alluvial Fan Trail will receive $200,000 in federal funds matched by $200,000 from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to make much needed fixes.

"Our national parks span 12 time zones and attract more than 330 million visitors every year," said Secretary Zinke. "Some locations, like Rocky Mountain National Park, attract millions of visitors alone. This puts an incredible stress on the aging infrastructure at our parks and thanks to Centennial Grants and the generosity of public-private partners, we are able to distribute funds to rebuild our parks."

With record visitor numbers comes more and more instances of vandalism within national parks. A section of Mesa Verde National Park was just recently vandalized.

"It's different management techniques and accountabilities we can put in place to make sure people are respectful of our great public lands," said Senator Gardner.

During his confirmation, Secretary Zinke said millennials need to get out more. He expanded on that.

"What makes millennials want to go out and enjoy the outdoors," asked Secretary Zinke. "Mountain bikes, WiFi, different types of recreation. This is what we need to encourage"

Is $50 million enough for national park infrastructure? President Trump called for major cuts to the national park system in his 2018 budget proposal. Secretary Zinke has vowed to fight against the cuts.