Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visits Yellowstone National Park

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Yellowstone National Park attracted high profile attention on Friday.

Home Secretary Deb Haaland was in the park to talk about efforts to repair roads and other infrastructure damaged by record flooding in June.

The north and south loops through the park are now open to traffic, but the road from Roosevelt Junction to Silver Gate and Cooke City remains closed.

This means that the popular Lamar Valley, renowned for its superb animal sightings, remains off-limits to visitors.

It is because of this damage to the road near Trout Lake. New videos of the damage were recently provided by the park service which show that the damage on this road is a large section of the road near the Soda Butte picnic area.

The other part of the park that suffered heavy damage is the road that connects the small community of Gardiner to the park headquarters in Mammoth.

A park official said no work is currently underway on this road as engineers are still assessing the damage and developing a plan to repair or reroute the road.

Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said Friday morning Old Gardiner Road is being paved and will be open before winter as a temporary access road.

He estimates that it will take three to five years to complete the permanent replacement work on the road.

John Sherer – MTN NEWS

In the meantime, work is underway on Old Gardiner Road. This road, a former stagecoach road, is being upgraded to accommodate a limited amount of park traffic.

It is unclear when this work will be completed and who will be permitted to use the road.

A major issue for Haaland is paying for repairs in Yellowstone and infrastructure work in other popular national parks.

Montana US Senator Steve Daines has funneled national park infrastructure funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That’s about $900 million a year.

Additionally, the bipartisan Infrastructure Act included $1.7 billion for transportation infrastructure. But overall, it’s still not enough.

Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, John Garder, director of budget and appropriations for the National Park Conservation Alliance, said repairs to Yellowstone alone could total more than $1 billion.

On Friday, Sholly said officials were still working on cost estimates.

He said the park will have at least four different cost estimates – one is the cheapest, another would be the best alignment of the road, another looking at environmental impacts and one that juggles costs with concerns environmental and road placement to prevent it getting washed again.

There are emergency appropriations from the Departments of Interior and Transportation to pay for temporary road repairs in the park, but a permanent fix is ​​a much bigger job that will take a long time, possibly years, to complete. to end.

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