One would think that National Park fees would go back into maintaining our sacred places. But according to a Washington Post report, one would be wrong. According to the outlet, almost $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees intended for park improvements and maintenance have been diverted to fund President Trump’s Independence Day Celebration today in Washington D.C.
Two separate sources confirmed that the funds were transferred to fund the parade, which is being called a “Salute to America,” and will reportedly be a show of military force as the administration has continually refused to divulge the full cost of the event. It will include “displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics show,” according to the paper.
Driving a political wedge into the event, the president is apparently “distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees,” prompting critics to argue that it’s become a publicly-funded campaign rally.
The funds are typically used to improve the user experience at parks around the country and has raised the ire of many, with military sources showing frustration with the mass show of force and political watchdogs criticizing the message the event sends by cutting off access to the public. “This is a breach of trust with the public,” Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, said in an email. “The public pays parks fees to fix national parks and for educational programs, not the president’s parade.”