Colorado Gets $6.7 Million in Interior Earmarks

Colorado received $6.7 million from 11 earmarks in the 2008 Interior Department appropriations legislation. About 40 percent of the total, $2.8 million went to Rocky Mountain National Park for unspecified purposes.

For the first time, the member who requested the earmark is identified in the legislation. Only one member of Congress, Republican Marilyn Musgrave, is credited with an earmark in this bill, $150,000 for water treatment improvements in the town of Eckley.The rest of the earmarks were requested by President Bush. They were:

$187,000  Confluence River Access
$396,000  Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area
$222,000  Penitente Canyon Rehabilitation
$146,000  Grand Junction Trailhead and Overlook Improvements
$856,000  Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
$2,817,000  Rocky Mountain National Park
$150,000  The Town of Eckley for Water Treatment Improvements
$305,000  Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest, Harm’s Peak Lake Campground Rehabilitation
$808,000  Montrose Bunkhouse
$250,000  Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest, Administrative Site  Acquisition
$533,000  Island Lake Recreation Area

According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense:

The House FY2008 Interior appropriations bill contains 321 congressionally disclosed member and administration earmarks worth a total of more than $329 million.  As is invariably the case, the spoils went to the majority party, and especially to members of the Interior appropriations subcommittee.

Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) was the biggest winner with $5.85 million in projects, including $150,000 for the Bremerton Public Library.  In total, a full fifty percent of the earmarked dollars go to the 66 members of the Appropriations Committee.  The split between the parties also follows the usual pattern, with Democrats pulling down 61 percent of the total earmark dollars.

The National Parks Conservation Association says that at least two Colorado national parks — Mesa Verde NP (which received no earmark) and Rocky Mountain NP — are in critical need of additional funding. The group says current staffing levels at Rocky Mountain are insufficient to protect the parks resources and maintain visitor services.