National parks remain closed in lieu of shutdown
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 01:10
National parks across the United States will be closed until further notice due to a government shutdown.
According to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), all 401 national parks have closed entrances, visitor centers, educational centers, campgrounds and other facilities. The rangers have given campers two days to vacate the campgrounds. National park service roads are being closed except when they are necessary as free ways.
According to the NPCA the last time the parks were closed because of a government shutdown was Dec. 16, 1995 through Jan. 6, 1996. The parks closed because Congress failed to reach a decision on the spending bill in time.
Many national park staff had to take a leave of absence because the parks no longer have the adequate funds to pay them. According to NPCA “86 percent of staff are furloughed until further notice.”
“NPCA is pushing for the government shutdown to end,” Emily Douce, budget and appropriations specialist for National Parks Conservation Association, said. “We want our parks to re-open and our funding returned to us.”
The economic benefits of having the parks open daily are enormous. As stated in a press release from John Garder, the budget and appropriations legislative representative from NPCA, “Every federal dollar invested in national parks generates ten dollars in economic activity. National parks are powerful economic engines, supporting $31 billion in private sector spending annually.
“National parks supply good jobs around the country. The National Park Service employs approximately 24,000 people, and national parks support 252,000 private-sector jobs,” Gardner said.
Fall is one of the busiest times for national parks because people like to see the fall foliage and enjoy the cool weather. The parks are losing millions each day they remained closed.
As stated by the NPCA, local communities are also losing money due to the closure of the parks.
“The loss of more than 750,000 daily visitors from around the world who visit in October may cost local communities as much as $30 million each day,” Theresea Pierno, acting president of the NPCA, said.
A local national park in New Hampshire is also struggling with the recent closure. Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is located in Cornish, N.H. They preserve the gardens and the home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s foremost sculptors.
“They average 5,032 visitors in the month of October,” Douce said. “Those visitors are estimated to spend $1.2 million.”
The Grand Canyon National Park will also be losing millions a day. According to NPCA, the park makes an average of “$1.3 million” per day. The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. People cannot experience its beauty or greatness when it’s closed.
“I went to the Grand Canyon when I was younger,” UNH student Lorissa Martin said. “I remember it being vast and so beautiful.”
While national parks are trying to deal with the money losses and their staff being temporarily out of work, the people who want to visit the parks are also disappointed.
“I would love to see [a national park] but that’s not going to be happening anytime soon with the government shutdown,” Jess Murtha, a student at the University of Maryland – Baltimore, said.
In a second press release sent out to the public, Shannon Andrea, the director of media relations at NPCA, said, “As we approach the centennial of our national parks in 2016, and on behalf of our 800,000 members, supports, families and businesses throughout the nation, we call on Congress and the President to swiftly re-open our national parks to visitors and agree to a budget that ends these indiscriminate cuts to the national park service.”