Yellowstone National Park Receives $40 Million Donation for Employee Housing

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The National Park Foundation (NPF) and National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that Yellowstone National Park has received a $40 million donation. The money is earmarked for improving existing housing and expanding housing for the park’s staff.

The gift was given by an anonymous donor, as NPR reported. The money will help provide affordable housing to the Yellowstone National Park staff, which can total more than 3,000 workers at the busiest times of the year.

A Yellowstone National Park seasonal employee housing trailer on April 9, 2019. Jacob w. Frank / NPS

“This transformational gift will meet a critical need for new housing in Yellowstone, and be a catalyst for more philanthropic investment,” Will Shafroth, President and CEO of NPF, said in a press release. “These skilled, dedicated professionals at the National Park Service who protect our parks and make visitors’ experiences great deserve housing they can be proud to call home.”

Like many parts of the U.S., areas around national parks have been impacted by rising housing costs, according to NPS. Further, homes converted into short-term rental units have limited the amount of housing available in the areas around national parks. This has pushed many workers to live farther away from the parks or quit working at the parks altogether. It has also made it harder to recruit new employees, NPS said.

NPF and NPS will use the funds to build more than 70 new modular housing units. The housing will be built in West Yellowstone and Gardner Village, as Cache Valley Daily reported. Construction is expected to begin later this year, NPS said.

In 2020, Yellowstone announced a major effort to improve employee housing and began replacing old trailers with new modular cabins. According to the press release, “The $40 million gift will bridge the funding gap at Yellowstone National Park to meet the current need for employees housing in the park and provide a funding model to accelerate construction of employee housing at national parks across the country.”

Above: A Yellowstone employee housing site before demolition, on Feb. 4, 2020. Below: New homes for park employees under construction on Oct. 8, 2021. Jacob w. Frank / NPS

“This gift will be transformational in helping us continue improving employee housing across Yellowstone,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said. “Our thanks to the donors for their generosity and commitment to meet the needs of park employees and to the Park Foundation for its leadership and continued partnership.”

Yellowstone National Park is just one of many national parks facing a shortage in affordable housing for staff. NPS employs a total of about 20,000 people, and 15,600 workers rely on park housing. NPS stated it has more than 5,600 housing facilities, which include cabins, dorms and duplexes. But the organization noted that private philanthropy, like the $40 million donation to Yellowstone National Park, could quickly aid in efforts to improve and add housing at parks around the U.S.

“The housing challenges facing each park are unique, and so are the solutions,” said Chuck Sams, director of NPS. “The ability to recruit and retain a talented workforce remains essential to our ability to protect parks and to ensure a world-class visitor experience. NPS is committed to innovative solutions that contribute to meeting the demand for employee housing across the National Park System. I am incredibly grateful to the donors to the National Park Foundation whose tremendous generosity will help NPS address this critical need.”

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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