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HomeLatest NewsTemporary National Park Closures Amidst Shutdown Affecting Interior Operations

Temporary National Park Closures Amidst Shutdown Affecting Interior Operations

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In response to a potential government shutdown, the Interior Department announced that national park sites would be closed, visitor centers shut down, and park rangers furloughed. However, certain iconic parks like the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Capitol Reef will stay open as state governments, such as those in Arizona and Utah, intend to use their own funds to keep them operating at basic levels. This decision is in contrast to the 2013 government shutdown when parks were closed, causing outrage among Republicans. The Interior Department did not provide specific plans for each park but stated that areas physically accessible to the public would remain open, although services like restroom maintenance and emergency operations may be limited.

The National Park Service, which includes vast attractions like the Grand Canyon and smaller ones like the Gateway Arch, attracted over 312 million visitors in 2022, contributing nearly $24 billion to local economies. The current decision to keep certain parks open stands in contrast to the previous shutdown under the Trump administration when parks remained open but unstaffed, leading to extensive damage that is still being repaired. Parks may remain open if they can secure funds from foundations or other sources. Western state Republicans, such as Utah Senator Mike Lee, expressed concerns about the economic impact of park closures. Utah, which hosted national parks that generated $17 billion in visitor spending in 2022, would have to use state funds to keep the parks open. Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau blamed House Republicans for the potential shutdown, emphasizing the negative consequences it would have on parks and the economy. He called on avoiding a government shutdown altogether to prevent park closures.

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