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Trump donates $78K paycheck to the National Park Service, whose budget he wants to cut by $1.5 billion

Sierra Club condemns the donation, which will go to preserving historic battlefields, as "publicity stunt."

President Donald Trump is donating his first paycheck to the National Park Service, Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced Monday.

It may have been a nice gesture, and the leader of the free world does pull in $400,000 a year. So, in the 10 weeks he's been in office, Trump has earned $78,000 from his government salary.

That's a nice chunk of change for an average American, but it pales in comparison to the $1.5 billion in cuts the president wants to make to the National Park Service, as Trump outlined in his 2018 budget proposal.

On the campaign trail, the billionaire repeatedly said he would not accept a salary if elected. As it turns out, the president cannot turn down his salary under federal laws designed to discourage bribery. Instead, he pledged to donate his pay to charity.

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And that's what he's done.

Spicer handed an oversized check to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during the press briefing Monday. "Ironically, it's not as easy to give money to the government as you would think,” Spicer joked.

Taking money away isn’t necessarily easy either.

The president’s proposed 12 percent cut to the Park Service budget will have to be approved by Congress.

Zinke said the gift would go toward preserving the nation’s historic battlefields. Though he thanked Trump for his gift, saying it would help to “honor the many men and women who have given their lives in service of this great nation,” he hinted the president's check wouldn’t go too far.

"We're about $229 million behind in deferred maintenance on our battlefields alone," he said.

The nationwide park maintenance bill is estimated at $12 billion.

Meanwhile, Trump's gesture didn't go down very well with many conservation groups, including the Sierra Club, which denounced the donation as nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”

“If Donald Trump is actually interested in helping our parks, he should stop trying to slash their budgets to historically low levels,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. “America’s parks, and the people and economies they support, need real funding, not a giant fake check. Parks are a good investment and we must invest now if we want them to be around for our kids.”

Trump isn't usually one to support conservation causes.

The Environmental Protection Agency was hardest hit in his budget proposal, and he feuded with the National Park Service shortly after taking office for his stance on climate change, fracking and oil.