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Federal officials visit Yellowstone to survey flooding damage and infrastructure repairs

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (KIFI) - US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz got a tour of the damage in Yellowstone National Park Friday.

It comes after historic flooding in June.

While Yellowstone has re-opened, there are still months of repairs for corridors and park trials.

 The northeast corridors are critically damaged.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland shares her thoughts after seeing the destruction up close...

"We have a chance to actually see one of the roads that had completely caved in firsthand. It's pretty evident that the river just has a mind of its own," said Haaland.

The secretary's office has freed up $60 million dollars to repair damages and reopen the remaining northeastern corridors.

However, while many businesses have been able to reopen tours and reservations, some will continue to wait until repairs are finished.

"Multiple trails in the park were washed out, bridges have been washed out, etc.," said Yellowstone National Park Lodges General Manager Mike Keller. "So like our horseback activities in the roosevelt area, we can't provide those anymore until they rebuild the trails. And that's going to take some time."

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cameron Sholly says some businesses and hotels may be able to be reimbursed thanks to Montana Governor Gianforte.

"He's explained what I think is a terrific job in freeing up providing grants for businesses that lost reservations up to $25,000...But if businesses can show a loss of revenue, loss of reservations, they can be reimbursed up to $25,000 to cover payroll costs," said Sholly.

The park will have temporary solutions put in place to open the northeast corridor by winter 2022.

As they work to reopen the roads that were washed away, Superintendent Sholly has his eye on the future.

"We're working once again with the secretary's office, with our partner's Federal highways to determine what is the best long-term solution for those corridors. And it may be not just about fixing the sections of road that washed out during the flood event. It's also looking with an eye toward the future. What other areas in those corridors might be vulnerable to a similar flood event?" said Sholly.

He believes we're 3 to 5 years away from permanent long-term repairs and solutions.

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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