Park Service takes ‘extraordinary step’ of dipping into entrance fees amid shutdown
Park Service takes ‘extraordinary step’ of dipping into entrance fees amid shutdown
Volunteers Travis Puglisi and Shawn Snyder load a trailer of trash in Joshua Tree National Park on Dec. 31. Sabra Purdy
10 January, 2019, 14:15
The group says numerous stories people have heard about sanitation, trash, and vandalism at parks across the country are happening here as well.
Jon Jarvis, the National Park Service director during former President Barack Obama's two terms, told the Post using entrance fees to operate some parks during a shutdown was "a slippery slope".
With the breathtaking scenery blanketed in snow, the park is visited by over 20,000 tourists every month.
Yosemite National Park also closed a number of campgrounds and facilities within the park because of impacts from human waste and public safety concerns, the National Park Service said.
"Relaxing those internal controls, as the Park Service appears to be doing, is a positive step toward better addressing the agency's most pressing maintenance and operational challenges", Regan said.
In the coming days the NPS will begin to use these funds to clean up trash that has built up at numerous parks, clean and maintain restrooms, bring additional law enforcement rangers into parks to patrol accessible areas, and to restore accessibility to areas that would typically be accessible this time of year.
Freshman Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, sent a similar letter to Bernhardt that said he joined in asking for an alternative approach to keeping the parks open.
Citing an unnamed Park Service official, the Post reported that the Interior Department's solicitor had authorized the memo.
During this influx of visitors, makeshift information centers run by volunteers and retired park service employees were set up at Coyote Corner, a local gift shop just outside the park, to help educate people on where to go and how to behave. "It is not acceptable to use FLREA funds to keep the parks open, and the Department of the Interior's actions likely violate appropriations law", McCollum, who will soon have oversight over the Interior Department's spending, said in a statement.
Jeremy Barnum, a spokesperson with the National Parks Service told the Washington Post that a total of seven people have died since the shutdown, and officials believe four of them were suicides.
"We aren't releasing more detail because the incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown", Munoz said.
Amidst all of the destruction and despair that is ravaging numerous national parks, the Joshua Tree local community is truly showing exemplary support and taking matters into their own hands.
Stewart said Sunday that he was happy Interior would keep the parks running. The plan said relevant parks would "utilize available retained recreation fees balances to provide basic visitor services", but it also said an area "must be closed" if visitor access became "a safety, health or resource protection issue".
Mesa Verde National Park reported $65.7 million in maintenance needs that have been delayed because of budget constraints.
"As a result, there will be no public services including food, restrooms or snow plowing sufficient for safe travel anywhere in the park beginning late Sunday", the statement said, adding that visitors would still be allowed to access the park by foot.
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