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Government Shutdown 2023: Are National Parks Closed?

(NEXSTAR) – As the clock ticks toward the looming weekend deadline, a government shutdown looked increasingly likely Thursday. A federal shutdown could be bad news for hundreds of thousands of federal workers, for people who rely on government assistance to pay for food, and for those planning to travel to one of the nation’s 425 national parks. country.

Because the National Park Service is largely funded by Congressional appropriations, all 63 national parks, as well as hundreds of additional monuments and sites, are “at risk of closing on October 1” if the government fails to reach a resolution. agreement to maintain government funding. » writes the National Parks Conservation Association, a group that advocates for the protection of parks.

As The Hill has previously reported, it’s unclear what would happen to national parks in the event of an upcoming federal government shutdown. The Interior Ministry has also not announced its plan.

The situation has played out differently during past closures. For example, parks completely closed for a time during the government shutdown in 2013. But in 2018, during a partial government shutdown, parks remained open – largely unstaffed. This has led to problems with trash accumulation, illegal off-road driving, and damage to natural resources. In some cases, Joshua trees in the national park of the same name were felled as all-terrain vehicles attempted to drive around the barriers.

During the 2013 and 2018-2019 shutdowns, thousands of National Park Service employees were put out of work, leading to the closure of visitor centers and museums. This is likely to happen during a possible shutdown in 2023, according to the NPCA.

Fewer rangers and law enforcement on patrol could also make parks less safe for visitors, even if parks are still accessible. National parks are huge and often have multiple access points, making them difficult to close to the public, even in situations where they are technically closed.

Some national parks could remain open if states decide to use their funding to keep them operational. The governors of Arizona and Utah, home to eight national parks combined, said they would consider using state funds to keep the parks open, the New York Times reports.

Congress has until midnight Saturday night to reach an agreement and avoid a shutdown.


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