President's budget proposal cuts Glacier funds


KALISPELL, Mont. - Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is defending President Donald Trump's budget proposal that calls for a $1.6 billion decrease in spending for the Department of the Interior.

Among those decreases is nearly $1 million for Glacier National Park.

In a written statement Zinke said, "President Trump promised the American people he would cut wasteful spending and make government work for the taxpayer again, and that's exactly what this budget does."

Daniel Datellier works at a grocery store in West Glacier. He believes the spending cut for Glacier is a bad idea.

"I expect to be as busy as last year," said Datellier. "I think people are finding out about the magic of Glacier (National) Park."

Others NBC Montana spoke with say they trust the president's judgment.

"Whatever he's doing, he's doing it right," says Whitefish resident Gene Gemignani. "If he wants to cut the budget here and there it's probably a good thing."

Others are quick to point out the backlog of deferred maintenance at national parks around the country.

According to the National Park Service website, national parks are looking at a total of $11 billion in deferred maintenance. Glacier alone has nearly $200 million, one of the highest in the country.

Public affairs officer Lauren Alley said it's too early to know how exactly the proposed budget could impact Glacier. However, in previous reports, Alley told NBC Montana park employees were having trouble responding to record crowds that turned out last year.

National Parks Conservation Association officials said with increasing visitation and a shortage of employees, the president's budget "adds insult to injury" and "this budget would just make things a lot harder and we're urging congress to reject it outright."

Trump's budget is a proposal, and Congress will ultimately decide how the budget is constructed.

According to the Department of the Interior, Glacier National Park contributed $250 million dollars in visitor spending last year.