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YELLOWSTONE FLOODS

Yellowstone region to receive $65 million in federal relief to repair flood damage

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Yellowstone flood flyover

A broken culvert rolls out from underneath a washed out section of North Entrance Road on the Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park on June 19.

Wyoming, Montana and the National Park Service will receive at least $65 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to repair damage caused by historic flooding nearly two weeks ago.

Of that sum, $60 million will go to the park, $2 million will go to Wyoming’s Department of Transportation and $3 million will go to Montana’s Department of Transportation, according to a Thursday announcement.

The money comes from an emergency relief program from the Federal Highway Administration.

The $65 million is “quick release” funding, the announcement said. The National Park Service and state agencies can use the money to finance repairs and protect against future damage.

All three organizations could be getting more funds from the Federal Highway Administration down the road as officials work to assess the extent of the flooding damage.

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The floods washed out roads and bridges across the Yellowstone region — cutting off access to the park and many of its surrounding communities, like Red Lodge and Gardiner, Montana.

It’s a tourism hot spot for both states. Last week, residents and officials told the Star-Tribune they feared the natural disaster could spell doom for the region’s economy.

“As a tour guide, I’m completely out of business. As a vacation rental, I’m completely out of business” Gardiner resident Deby Dixon said.

Repairing damage to infrastructure will be key to getting that business back.

While Yellowstone reopened its East, South and West gates Wednesday, its northern gates are still closed. Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly on Sunday said the park hopes to clear the remaining entrances by the end of the summer.

In 2021, Wyoming made $258 million in tax revenue from outside visitors, according to a report commissioned by the state’s tourism office. That’s 60% more than it made in 2020, the report said.

Yellowstone enjoyed record attendance in 2021. About 4.8 million people visited the park — 1 million more than the year prior.

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