By Elsa Heidorn
Laramie, WY – The Interior Department has granted more than half a million dollars for projects at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
The money hasn't been handed over yet, but Congress is expected to approve the department's Centennial Initiative, which would grant about 1 billion dollars for national parks over the next several years.
In the first round, Yellowstone National Park got about $515,000 to fund field trips for children, preserve historic artifacts and create an on-line system to help scientists share their research.
"It's a way to help integrate their efforts, but it doesn't require them to be physically in one place," said Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash.
Meantime, Grant Teton National Park got $25,000 to track West Nile virus and avian flu in birds as well as teach visitors about how to protect themselves from those diseases.
"These are two potential health risks that we hope to minimize and reduce the exposure that people might have and that would be through education but also monitoring and tracking," said Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs.
The federal money will be matched by private donations.