NPS Approves 'Immediate Assistance' to Fund Park Cleanups During Shutdown

Leroy Wright
January 9, 2019

Congressional Democrats and some park advocates question whether the park-fee move is legal, because the fees that parks collect under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act are expressly designated to support visitor services instead of operations and basic maintenance.

Across the country, dozens of their colleagues in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association were doing the same at national parks closed or partially closed by the shutdown. During such shutdowns under the Clinton and Obama administrations, the Park Service chose to block access to its sites rather than leave them open with a skeleton staff. Trump officials chose the opposite course, and as trash has begun to mount, and habitat has been imperiled, the administration is struggling to manage the problems.

He explained, "the only time the park felt close to getting out-of-hand was during peak visitation over the holidays due to the sheer number of visitors, and fortunately, the amount of damage was minimal". "This is not how a rational president behaves, and the Natural Resources Committee will demand answers about whether these moves are legally justified".

On Sunday, the National Park Service released a statement that they will be pulling from the funds derived from entrance, camping, parking and other miscellaneous park fees to put towards staffing of select parks, although which parks and the amount of money has yet to be specified.

Bernhardt described efforts of Utahns to keep their national parks operating as "amazing". He added that the funds would be used to clean up garbage that has been piling up at "numerous" sites, clean bathrooms, bring in law enforcement, and open up accessibility to park areas as scheduled.

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The Park Service is part of the Department of the Interior, one of the agencies affected by the prolonged partial government shutdown that began in late December.

Over the weekend, Trump threatened to escalate the situation by using his presidential powers to declare a national emergency in an apparent bid to bypass Congress to secure funding for his border wall. "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. "The longer we kick the can down the road, the more it will cost", Dabbs said. Three Utah Republican congressmen also asked Bernhardt to restart regular operations. For example, at Joshua Tree National Park in California, campgrounds were forced to close January 2 for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reached capacity, the National Park Service said. Another group of civilians is maintaining Yosemite National Park. Howenweep National Monument lists $255,000 in backlogged repairs, and Yucca House National Monument lists $125,000. "We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash". "Many park facilities are 50 to 70 years old".

Statement on Protecting National Parks while Providing the American People Continued Access during the Lapse of AppropriationsP.

The Journal contributed to this article.

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