President Donald Trump’s donation to the National Park Service has been recognized by at least one organization for what it is: a “publicity stunt.”
During his daily White House briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer presented Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a check for $78,333 — the president’s salary for his first few months in office.
Zinke, who served as a United States Navy SEAL, said the money would go toward maintenance of preserved battlefields.
In this project alone, the department is “about $229 million behind in deferred maintenance,” Zinke shared at the briefing.
While the donation sounds like a large amount on the surface, it does not ultimately equate to a lot of money. For one, Trump’s donation is about 0.03 percent of what would be needed to maintain the battlefields alone.
In addition, the money does not even put a dent in the $1.5 billion in budget cuts the president proposed for the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service. In total, the department would suffer a 12 percent budget cut compared to the previous fiscal year.
This fact was not lost on Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization. Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club has about 2.9 million members and 64 national chapters.
“If Donald Trump is actually interested in helping our parks, he should stop trying to slash their budgets to historically low levels,” Brune said in a statement. “This publicity stunt is a sad consolation prize as Trump tries to stifle America’s best idea. It’s a distraction that falls far short of the $12 billion needed to address the current backlog of park maintenance and does nothing to offset the almost $2 billion Trump asked Congress to cut from the Department of the Interior in his budget.”
The president entered office seemingly in a feud with the National Park Service when its Twitter account retweeted photos comparing Trump’s inauguration audience to former President Barack Obama’s, which appeared much larger. The inauguration took place on the National Mall, which is controlled by the National Park Service.
As a result, all Department of Interior bureaus were instructed to “immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice.”
The Twitter ban was quickly lifted, and the National Park Service sent a tweet apologizing for the “mistaken” retweets.
We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you pic.twitter.com/mctNNvlrmv
— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) January 21, 2017