Press Release Aug 13, 2020

Members of Congress: Interior Must Prioritize Park Safety During Pandemic

Commonsense protocols must be put in place to ensure the safety of park staff, visitors and surrounding communities.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Interior has actively encouraged people to visit national parks. A new letter led by Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Vice Chair Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) outlines concerns with Interior’s approach, asking for the agency to document how the agency plans to keep park visitors, employees, and communities safe.

The letter seeks to understand how Interior plans to handle mask wearing, social distancing, and other safety protocols as crowds converge on national parks. The National Parks Conservation Association prioritizes park safety above all else, and shares these concerns.

Statement of Kristen Brengel, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“These are absolutely the questions that the American public deserves answers to, as the Department of Interior encourages people to visit parks amid the global pandemic this summer. Beyond narrow trails and crowded overlooks and boardwalks, parks are seeing record-setting visitation this summer as people get outside. The leadership at Interior isn’t being proactive enough to keep staff and visitors safe.

“Park staff are worried about their health and the safety of visitors, as Interior political appointees continue to push access while refusing to put in place mask policies, even indoors. Congress should be holding Interior accountable and should work to ensure that effective, commonsense protocols are put in place to ensure the safety of park staff, visitors and surrounding communities.”

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.