“As our country barrels towards a government shutdown, our national parks and park staff have no choice but to prepare for the worst-case scenario and that’s closing the parks." - Theresa Pierno, NPCA's President and CEO
Washington, DC – After a months-long stalemate, Congress has made little progress on passing an Interior Department spending bill that is needed to fund the National Park Service for fiscal year 2024. If a federal spending deal is not reached by October 1, a government shutdown would likely close all 425 national park sites across the country, impacting local economies and millions of people planning to visit these treasured places.
A shutdown would threaten to turn away nearly one million park visitors every day. Gateway communities could lose as much as $70 million every day parks are closed in October. Thousands of park staff could soon be put in the difficult position of not knowing when their next paycheck will arrive, while park businesses and partners face losses after starting to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the threat of a shutdown, the House Interior appropriations proposed spending bill, which is scheduled to move forward on the House floor next week, would drastically cut $433 million (12.5%) from the Park Service’s budget. This drastic proposed reduction could mean as many as 1,000 fewer staff to ensure visitor experience and safety and fewer resources to protect these beloved sites.
So that all parks can remain open and adequately staffed to keep visitors safe and irreplaceable resources protected, Congress must quickly pass a continuing resolution or a funding bill that values our national parks and surrounding communities, not the damaging cuts proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):
“As our country barrels towards a government shutdown, our national parks and park staff have no choice but to prepare for the worst-case scenario and that’s closing the parks.
“It’s unfathomable that our country is on the brink of another government shutdown. But if Congress is unable to do its job and fund our government, the National Park Service must do what’s necessary to protect our most treasured places and close their gates.
“During the last shutdown when parks operated with only skeleton crews, we watched helplessly as Joshua Trees were cut down, park buildings were vandalized, prehistoric petroglyphs were damaged, trash piled up, and human waste overflowed. And visitor safety at parks across the country was put at risk. We cannot allow history to repeat itself. Congress must come to an agreement to keep the government and our parks open and protected.
“The impacts of another government shutdown on our national parks and communities would be incredibly damaging. Parks could lose more than $1 million in fee revenue every day they are closed. This money is critical for funding law enforcement, maintenance projects, visitor services and wildlife habitat restoration projects. Thousands of park staff would be furloughed without pay, and local businesses that rely on park visitors could be forced to close their doors with no guarantee of when they can reopen.
“The clock is running out. It’s time for Congress to come together and quickly pass a spending agreement so our parks can remain adequately funded, staffed and open. Our national parks are more popular than ever before. Congress must make funding decisions that invest more in these special places, not less.”
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 more than 1.5 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
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