Old Faithful Viewing Area
West Yellowstone, Montana
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Bernhardt. How about a round of applause for Secretary David Bernhardt, who has stepped in as Secretary of the Interior? (Applause.) He’s doing an incredible job for America and looking after our vast natural resources. Thank you for your remarkable work preserving, protecting, and improving our national parks and our public lands. It is a joy for Karen and I to be back to Yellowstone National Park. It is a crown jewel of the American park system. (Applause.)
Thank you all. And to all of the rangers, to the forest service personnel, National Park Service team, and to all of the partners that accommodate some 4 million people that come through Yellowstone National Park every year: Thank you. Thank you for your service. We’re here just to express our admiration, appreciation, and determination to make sure that this park and all of our national parks are preserved for this generation and every American generation. (Applause.)
And Karen and I are delighted to be back. We first came to Yellowstone National Park when all of our kids were a little bit shorter than this podium. (Laughter.) And I’ll never forget when Karen said to me — I said, “What are we doing on our August vacation?” She said, “We’re going to Yellowstone National Park.” And I said, “What else are we doing?” (Laughter.) And she said, “We’re going to drive from Indiana out to Yellowstone.” And we spent an entire week in this park. And we stayed at one lodge after another, and it was an extraordinary experience.
And to every American that might be looking on from afar, we simply say: America has the best national parks in the world. It is time for your family to come to Yellowstone. (Applause.)
And I want to thank the great team here. Not only all the personnel standing before us today as we wait for one more time for old Faithful to do its job, but also I want to thank the leadership here too. Your Superintendent, Cam Sholly, who not only has served with great distinction in the National Park Service, but also in the United States Army. And even last night showed his compassion for one of the people who were here. He literally saved the lives of one of the tourists — a young man — who was here. Join me in thanking your great Superintendent for the great job that he does every day. (Applause.) Awesome.
And we want to — we just also — we want to acknowledge the great support that we have from your delegation in the Congress. I was on Capitol Hill just a day or so ago, and I could tell your senators and your congresswoman were just a little bit jealous that I was going to be in Yellowstone today. And they couldn’t be here because of duties, but join me in thanking Senator Mike Enzi, Senator John Barrasso, and Congresswoman Liz Cheney. They are great, great champions for this national park. (Applause.)
And as I gather before you today, allow me to bring greetings from a great, great champion of our national parks and who — like another New Yorker who became President of the United States — believes in investing in and supporting and conserving out great national treasures. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, the President said in our very first year in office that our national treasures — our national parks, in his words, “symbolize our ongoing commitment to the preservation of our land and wildlife, and they set the conservation standard for the… world.” And so each one of you put feet on that every single day.
And it’s nowhere more true than right here in Yellowstone National Park. It’s amazing to think, in this incredible stretch of land, full of rivers and canyons, geysers and hot springs — and I just heard a very energetic presentation from a park ranger about the geysers. That there is — I learned today — where is she? She was phenom- — where is Rebecca at? Give Rebecca a round of applause. She is really something. (Applause.)
I didn’t know half of the geysers in the world were here in Yellowstone National Park until I met Rebecca. And, in fact, is one showing up behind us here? Let’s turn around and enjoy it. (Applause.)
Right on cue. Boy, you got to love Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, don’t you? (Laughter.) Wow. Just amazing.
It’s amazing to think of this — that Yellowstone National Park actually was our very first national park, established by President Ulysses Grant, as you all know, in 1872. He commemorated it with the words that “set this land apart for the benefit and [the] enjoyment of the people.” And now, those words, I know, are enshrined on the Roosevelt Arch entering into the parkway today.
Every one of you today working here — not just at Old Faithful, but all across Yellowstone National Park — ensure that these lands are set apart, that they do remain for the enjoyment and the benefit of our people. And we’re truly grateful to each and every one of you.
In nearly 150 years since this park was established, the men and women of the National Park Service and your forebearers have helped develop this rugged wilderness into an iconic place that is literally enjoyed by more than 4 million people every single year.
You’ve built hundreds of miles of roads, hundreds of backcountry campsites, bridges, tunnels, other infrastructure that have helped open up Yellowstone to the wider world. And it’s amazing to think of the impact that this has had on the region and the enjoyment of the people of the United States of America.
But we came here to say thanks. And rather than just collectively saying thanks to all of you that are wearing these National Park Service uniforms, I want to single out a couple of you. Like a boardwalk supervisor, who I’m told got his start here in Yellowstone 38 years ago as a seasonal employee. He was actually responsible for cleaning toilets in Grant Village, truth be told. But since that beginning, he’s had a hand, I’m told, in most of the infrastructure projects here in the park, helping to pave roads, clear trails, build bumper logs, maintain miles of the boardwalk. And I was told on the way here that he’s retiring next year. And I know that his hard work and his friendly spirit will be missed on the team, but I know he’ll be back here again, and often. Join me in thanking Paul Anderson for his lifetime of service to Yellowstone National Park. (Applause.) Great job, Paul. Great job.
And nothing works here without making sure the budget works. And there’s a budget analyst here at Yellowstone that deserves recognition. She spends most of her time working behind the scenes doing, kind of, the less-than-glamorous work, but it’s essential to maintaining the park’s finances and balanced budget. She’s developed a reputation for always going above and beyond the call of duty to make things work here at Yellowstone. Long-time member of the community. In fact, not only did her husband recently retire from the Gardiner School after years of teaching, but all three of their kids graduated from Gardiner, including her youngest, who graduated just last week. So join me in thanking Joy Perius. Where are you, Joy? Thanks for all your great work. Great job, Joy. And congratulate that young one for us, will you? Is he here? (Laughter.) Hey, congratulations. Well done, son. Not standing with mom; he didn’t want to — (laughter). I get that. Joy, we got kids. We got three. So we’re good.
But, really, all of them are emblematic of all of you. I know that — I know that this is a job. And we’re proud to have you on the payroll. But I know it’s a calling. I know you’re here in Yellowstone — you’re here making sure this park is available. You’re making sure the people that enjoy this park are safe every day. And so for whatever role you play here at Yellowstone National Park, give yourselves a round of applause. We’re all proud of all of you. (Applause.)
And, you know, it’s a real joy to be here with my wife, Karen, and she had a special treat earlier today, and she wanted to say a word about a really special person here at Yellowstone. So would you join me in welcoming the Second Lady of the United States of America Karen Pence back to Yellowstone? (Applause.)
MRS. PENCE: One of the great programs here is also the Artist-in-Residence. So Larry Hughes, if you can raise your hand so that everybody knows who you are. Right back here. (Applause.)
And I just got a treat. I got to look at Larry’s studio and I got to see some of his amazing watercolors. So artists-in-residence come for two-week periods. And so he happens to be the one who’s here right now. And I’m really grateful because he’s a very, very talented watercolor artist. So you might want to head over there, before he heads out, to see some of his work. So thank you, Larry. And I know your wife is here as well, right?
MRS. PENCE: Right here. Right up front. Yeah. She got a better seat than you did. Yeah. Yeah. (Laughter.) Anyway, I know you’re very proud of him because he is an amazing artist. So he does plein-air sessions. He does work with kids here at the park. So be sure to go see some of his artwork. It’s amazing. Thank you, Larry. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great job. Great job. Thank you. Well, it’s high praise coming from Mrs. Pence, Larry, because she’s an accomplished watercolor artist. And being able to capture the extraordinary beauty of Yellowstone and carry it out to the wider world is a real gift for us. So we really commend you.
So beyond saying thank you, I wanted to make sure that all of you who make Yellowstone National Park work every day know that, in this administration, in this White House, you have a President who is committed to conservation. And President Donald Trump is committed to improving and bettering the national parks of the United States of America, I promise you. (Applause.)
I’m pleased to report, in the President’s 2020 budget, we’ve requested more than $12 billion for the Department of Interior, including nearly $3 billion for the National Park Service. We’ve requested funding for wildlife and forest management programs to minimize the risk of wildfires and insect infestations, invasive species, and the dangers posed to our country’s national treasures that are here.
But let me also — let me also take a minute — I met with some firefighters, when I landed at the airport — people that work in fire here, in managing what is a natural occurrence that happens. But it represents a — it represents a challenge not only in this park, but across our country. Join us in thanking all the great firefighters who do the great work here at Yellowstone. (Applause.) Job well done.
But I’m also pleased to report, with the President’s leadership and the strong support of the Secretary of the Interior, as you just heard, we’ve actually proposed what will be known as the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will dedicate 50 percent of all of the revenues from leases on public lands to improve and maintain the infrastructure of our national parks. (Applause.)
It’s an idea whose time has come. And we’re working with leaders in both parties and leaders all across the country, as Secretary Bernhardt said, to make sure that this new reform is signed into law. And I know President Trump is looking forward to initiating this program to make sure that you all here at Yellowstone National Park, and throughout the National Park Service, and all our national parks have the resources to maintain this extraordinary infrastructure.
Just know that, under the President’s leadership, we will always support the vital mission of the National Park Service. It is a mission to inspire and it’s a mission that really adheres to the American character.
You know, I mentioned before that there was another President that came out of New York and was committed to conservation in our national parks. I’ve actually got a portrait of President Teddy Roosevelt in my office in the West Wing of the White House. I’ve done a fair amount of reading about that President, and I know he was known as a conservation President. And I can assure you, you’ve got another conservation President in the White House again.
Thinking about Teddy Roosevelt, I was struck by the fact that he didn’t just come here to Yellowstone in 1903 after he became President, but rather he had come here in 1890 with his family. And I did a little reading up on it, dear, and I found out that his wife, Edith, was actually thrown from a horse during that trip. So we won’t be riding today — (laughter) — just in case there’s a little bit of a tradition with that.
But I know, in 1903, President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance. And he spoke some extraordinary words that day. He said, “Here is your country. Cherish these national wonders. Cherish the natural resources. Cherish the history and romance as sacred heritage for your children and your children’s children.” And it’s what each one of you do each and every day.
And Karen and I just couldn’t resist, having some business up in Montana, to come down and just make sure you knew — not just the support that we’re going to continue to provide to our National Park Service and here to Yellowstone, but just the gratitude that the American people feel. I mean, these are extraordinary treasures in the life of our nation. And you are the stewards of those treasures.
And, let me say, it is my heartfelt belief that they are blessings as well. When we came here as a family, when we visited Yosemite, when we visited the Grand Canyon, my kids would tell you that I’d always correct them when they’d say, “That’s a very beautiful scene. That’s a very pretty scene.” I would say to them, “No, that’s a glorious — that’s a glorious scene.” Because it’s our deep conviction that when you look at this scenery, you look at its inspiration, it’s not just beautiful, it’s glorious, because it was created by One to whom glory is due. And we’ll give Him the glory as we enjoy — as millions of Americans do — the treasures that you carry here and protect here.
But also comes with that is stewardship. And each one of you are in the stewardship business. And I can’t help but think of what the Good Book says about stewardship. It actually talks of a time, in the very beginning, that, I quote, “When the Lord God took man and put him in a garden.” And it says He put him there to “work it and take care of it.”
And so on behalf of the American people, on behalf of a grateful nation, let me say to all of you here at Yellowstone National Park, all of you in the National Park Service and the Forest Service: Thank you for answering that calling to be stewards of our vast natural blessings in our national parks. Thank you for working it. Thank you for taking care of it. And I want to thank you, on behalf of this generation and every generation, for what you’re doing today to preserve Yellowstone and this incredible American treasure.
Thank you very much. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)