President Donald Trump donated his salary to the National Park Service (NPS), White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced in a press conference Monday.
Trump previously pledged during his first post-election TV interview to refuse the $400,000 salary he would earn as president. Spicer announced that Trump would donate his salary to a federal agency every quarter.
Trump made that same pledge during a campaign rally in September 2016.
Only John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover have declined to take the salary of the presidency, as they were both extremely wealthy.
The Parks Service really needs the money.
U.S. national parks and forests owe $17.2 billion in deferred maintenance and other backlogged expenses. Currently, NPS owes almost $12 billion in deferred maintenance and other backlogged expenses, meaning the agency would need to spend five times the amount it gets every year from Congress to fix its maintenance backlog, which is expected to grow each year. The U.S. Forest Service has a similar backlog of roughly $5.2 billion.
Much of the enormous backlog facing the two agencies is caused by expanding operations at the expense of basic maintenance. The NPS added 18 new units to the national parks system since 2009, costing the agency an enormous amount of money. As the mission of NPS expanded, the agency became increasingly unable to fund necessary maintenance projects.
The correlation between new park units and deferred maintenance is quite direct. The U.S. government has spent more than $10 billion acquiring new public lands, according to the Congressional Research Service.