The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Yetta Stein, Communications Associate, Western Values Project Action,, (406) 529-1682


Trump Administration Illegally Raided Funds From National Parks

Bernhardt Wrongly Insisted Diverted National Parks Funds During Government Shutdown was Legal 


Pres. Trump's government shutdown is still producing consequences for our public lands and national parks. Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Trump administration violated the letter of the law, as well as the law's intent, by incorrectly diverting congressional funds allocated to the National Park Service to pay government workers to clean park bathrooms and maintain sites during the historic government shutdown in January 2019.

"We are still feeling the effects of Trump's historic government shutdown. Through unprecedented action, Secretary Bernhardt's Interior first stole park fees to keep them open, then reallocated funds designated by Congress after questions were raised about the legality. It turns out it was all illegal," said Jayson O'Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. "These funds were intended to make repairs and improvements to our national parks but they were used to mascarade stability during Trump's reckless government shut down and public relations nightmare. There must be consequences for illegally stealing from our national parks because there are clearly consequences for our parks."

At the time of the government shut down, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt insisted that diverting funds was legal. But the GAO's investigation proved otherwise.

This is not the first time the Trump administration has used America's national parks as a toy for experimental policies. Recently reported by Yahoo News, both Sec. Bernhardt and Pres. Trump seems to be working to find "new sources of revenue" to support national parks projects - ones that could have presumably been partially funded had Trump not shut down the government and illegally used the funds meant to support these projects to instead keep the parks open.

Trump also diverted nearly $2.5 million dollars from national parks funding to pay for his Fourth of July political rally. The raided funding came from park entrance fees and were once again intended to improve national park maintenance and visitor experience across the country.

Western Values Project brings accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation - a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.