Originally posted on NRPA’s Open Space blog on October 16, 2013.
A deal may be struck and the shutdown may nearly be over (or at least temporarily held off until early 2014), but after the federal government shut down more than two weeks ago, one of the loudest frustrations from the public was the closing of our national parks. The average American might not feel the immediate sting of many government offices closing down, but with an October average of 715,000 visitors per day to the 401 National Park Service (NPS) sites, it’s no surprise that the loss of access to these public lands caused a major uproar. According to the Department of the Interior’s contingency plan published on September 26, 21,379 of the current 24,645 NPS employees were expected to be furloughed in the event of a shutdown.
Fortunately for park professionals like you as well as the public, state and local parks aren’t under the financial umbrella of the federal shutdown. However, this event still has the potential to affect you, as past federal shutdowns have caused some state agencies to step in to keep services coming. In fact, just this week a few states stepped in to temporarily open some of the national parks, footing the bill themselves, as detailed in this Associated Press news story. In addition, past shutdowns on the state and local levels have forced furloughs of thousands of park employees as well.