By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Improvements at Yellowstone National Park are scheduled for the coming year with the freeing up of money under the Great American Outdoors Act.
While the act setting aside $1.9 billion per year for improvements at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and rangelands was initially signed by former President Donald Trump, he put restrictions on how the money could be spent late last year. President Joe Biden recently removed the restrictions, allowing the projects to move forward.
Some of the money will be used to pay for a number of improvements at Yellowstone, with nearly $100 million earmarked for projects including replacement of the Yellowstone River Bridge, an upgrade of the wastewater treatment system at Old Faithful Geyser, replacement of the Mammoth wastewater collection system and replacement of the wastewater treatment plants serving the Canyon and Grant Village developed areas, according to the project list.
Yellowstone sees millions of visitors every summer from all over the world. Even in 2020, despite the COVID pandemic, Yellowstone only saw a slight dip in visitor numbers, even though the pandemic forced the park’s closure for two months.
The Great American Outdoors Act also provided funds to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which will also conduct improvement projects in Wyoming including repairs to three high hazard dams located across the state in the next fiscal year.
The Associated Press reported that the Biden administration said the investments are consistent with and help advance its “America the Beautiful” initiative, a decade-long conservation effort that aims to protect nearly one-third of America’s lands and waters by 2030.
“One of the best investments we can make is in stewarding the lands and waters that sustain us and the generations to come,″ Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today we are making critical investments that will create tens of thousands of jobs, safeguard the environment and help ensure that national parks and public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change and increased visitation.″