Utah Representatives Spur Emergency Funding For National Parks

Mario Tama  Getty Images

Mario Tama Getty Images

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".

Under a memorandum signed Saturday by the Interior Department's acting secretary, David Bernhardt, and obtained by The Washington Post, park managers will be permitted to bring on staff to clean restrooms, haul trash, patrol the parks and areas that have been shut during the budget impasse.

Bishop, now the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, cheered the department's decision to keep the parks operating.

In addition to individuals lending a hand, dozens of small businesses located in proximity to Yellowstone National Park have all chipped in thousands of dollars to keep the park open and tidy during the winter tourist season. But Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, the incoming chair of the subcommittee overseeing Interior appropriations, said Sunday that dipping into user fees was "not acceptable" in this situation, and likely violates the law. Under the law, 80 percent of the money collected must be spent on the park while 20 percent can go to fund activities at other park sites.

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.

The Washington Post first reported the shift in Park Service policy, including questions about the legality of tapping into the fee collections.

"The burdens being born by local communities should be addressed by park service personnel within days", Bernhardt said in a memo, "particularly at the bigger parks such as Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks".

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Bhatti told CNN that if the shutdown continues, they will be looking for other national parks to help clear and for more ways they can help community members affected by the shutdown. He added that, on average, six people die each week in parks across the country.

"We aren't releasing more detail because the incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown", Munoz said.

Fortune has reached out to the National Park Service for additional comment on these deaths and how the government shutdown is impacting safety and emergency procedures at the parks.

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. 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". Howenweep National Monument lists $255,000 in backlogged repairs, and Yucca House National Monument lists $125,000.

Even as Trump officials sought to maintain operations at key parks, some are closing up shop.

The Journal contributed to this article.

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