Park Service to tap into entrance fees to keep operating

08 Janvier, 2019, 07:58 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Volunteers Travis Puglisi and Shawn Snyder load a trailer of trash in Joshua Tree National Park on Dec. 31

Parks have largely remained open during the partial shutdown but are relying on outside help for security and upkeep.

"As the lapse in appropriations continues, it has become clear that highly visited parks with limited staff have urgent needs that can not be addressed exclusively through the generosity of our partners", says National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith.

But though tragic on their own, the tally of deaths is not out of the ordinary for the expansive National Park Service, which sees an average of six deaths per week, Litterst said. For example, Joshua Tree campgrounds were forced to close January 2 for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reached capacity, the National Park Service said.

The Fee Demonstration Program, which later became the FLREA, allowed parks to keep all revenue from visitor fees rather than send it back to the Treasury as long as it was put back in the parks to enhance the visitor services and experience.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonpartisan advocacy group, has since said Sunday's NPS announcement is misguided. Some critics contend fees collected under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act are designated for visitor services and not for basic maintenance operations, according to The Post. 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.

These group of hikers met up Sunday morning to enjoy the outdoors and help clean up parts of Shenandoah National Park.
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So far, shutdown-related issues at national parks have mainly had to do with cleanliness and sanitation. "The longer we kick the can down the road, the more it will cost", Dabbs said.

"It's incredibly concerning that the Acting Interior Secretary is putting political pressure on superintendents to keep parks open at the expense of parks' long-term needs and protection", Pierno said. "For those parks that don't collect fees, they will now be in the position of competing for the same inadequate pot of money to protect their resources and visitors". "We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash". "Many park facilities are 50 to 70 years old".

Some parks, including those in Utah, are littered with garbage with restrooms locked and roads blocked because of piling snow.

Overall, that's a miniscule fraction of the more than 330 million people who visited the 418 sites in the National Park System in 2017, according to National Park Service data.

The Journal contributed to this article.

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