Conservation group takes after Zinke over park fees; praises Tes - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Conservation group takes after Zinke over park fees; praises Tester

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A national conservation group is running TV ads in Montana opposing the Trump administration proposal raising entrance fees to national parks – and praising Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester for his stand on the issue.

NRDC Action Fund, the political arm of the Natural Resources Defense Fund, said it made a “five-figure” ad buy for its campaign.

The ad blasts Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his “friends in Congress” for wanting to slash funding for programs like Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

“Essentially, we're trying to scream from the mountaintops that these proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration are going to damage the quality of life for Americans, hurt public health, hurt public lands," said Matt Skogland, senior adviser to NRDC Action Fund in Bozeman.

The ad then tells viewers to “call Sen. Jon Tester” and tell him to keep fighting against these budget changes and the proposal to increase park entrance fees.

The Trump administration has proposed increasing national park entrance fees from $25 to $70 next year, for entry between June 1 and Oct. 31.

Heather Swift, spokeswoman for Secretary Zinke, told MTN News Wednesday that the increase is “still more affordable than taking a family of four to see a 3-D movie,” and that the majority of the increased funds will pay for park maintenance.

She also noted that NRDC has filed several “expensive and frivolous lawsuits” against the Interior Department, wasting “valuable taxpayer funds.”

The NRDC-funded ad is the latest of several efforts by conservation groups either taking after Zinke, a former Republican U.S. House representative from Montana, or boosting Tester, who is up for re-election in 2018.

Zinke had been thought to be a potential challenger of Tester in 2018, before President Trump decided to appoint Zinke as Interior secretary.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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