National Parks' Closure Being Highlighted In Congressional Budget Impasse

National parks are being wielded to build opposition to the congressional budget impasse that could lead to the first shutdown of the federal government since 1995-96.

In a release sent wide and far, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, raised the spectre of a shuttered Yosemite National Park in railing against Republicans he maintained are driving the government closer to a shutdown.

“This weekend, Yosemite might turn into ‘NOsemite’, as our national treasures would close their gates and send American families away,” said Rep. Markey. “House Republicans are telling the American families who would like to walk in one of our national parks this weekend to ‘take a hike.’ These forced closures could devastate the already fragile local economies of small communities which depend on national parks for tourism dollars.

“For House Republicans, the Tea Party is more important than the Tetons,” said Mr. Markey.

President Obama and Democrats have proposed significant and responsible budget cuts in an effort to meet House Republicans more than half way, the congressman's staff maintained.


" These forced closures could devastate the already fragile local economies of small communities which depend on national parks for tourism dollars."

Since when did the NPS care about that? Remember the parks are here for future generations and I am sure they will open up for them whenever that is.

Of course they are using the National Parks as examples. They are one of the few non-essential government 'services' that people would miss.

Although I would hate to see them close, if it's necessary to help balance the budget, go for it. Even if the gates are closed, the trails should still be accessible and may actually be better since the government is not involved.

...and how would the Parks be better if the NPS wasn't involved?

You assume that park closure goes along with park maintenance.
Park closure means serious deterioration of facilities, poaching, vandalism, and lots of other unsupervised activities by people undaunted (even encouraged by) a "No Tresspassing" sign.

The parks they close today are sure to be in better shape than the parks they reopen tomorrow.

And maybe kids will teach themselves if we close the schools.

Did you know that after the last closure ALL the NPS employees got back pay and will again if the park closes?

So why dont they work and keep the park open, they will get paid anyway....

So who was responsible to submit and pass a budget the last two years? The Dem. President, Senate and House. People are wising up to the Liberal BS that got us into this mess. Oh ya, it's Bush's fault. The Republicans want to starve kids and kill old people, Oh my!

The NPS and non essentials received checks because congress can vote and have them retroactively paid. There's not a snowballs chance in hell that would happen this time around. Anti-government/ anti public service is really en vogue these days.

The GOP is run by the tantrums of Mark Levin, as spoken by Rush Limbaugh, and as reported on the Drudge Report and Fox News. As such, the GOP is happy to close the government, as it is their enemy. Nevermind that they only control one half of one third of the government, they are determined to get their shutdown so nobody will call them RINOs. The GOP is focused on cutting government services, which may save 10s of billions, meanwhile the elephant in the room, entiutlement spending, is ignored. The citizens of this great country deserve better than both parties have on offer.

As a volunteer at a National Monument, I am less than happy I may be told Saturday morning my services are no longer needed. I am even more unhappy about what will happen to the park during any shutdown of services and the cost of restoring the damage which is likely to occur. Why can't our 536 children get it together?

I'm travelling from England next week to view some of the desert national parks in the southwest. If the parks were closed it would ruin all of my vacation plans and leave me with unease at ever visting the US again.

"I'm travelling from England next week to view some of the desert
national parks in the southwest. If the parks were closed it would ruin
all of my vacation plans and leave me with unease at ever visting the US

Now imagine having a chance of this happening everytime you come to Cape Hatteras. Those who make plans early in the year are faced with this possibilty of no access every year for the past three years.

Welcome to the club and do not look for refunds.

The last time the government shut down was on our first trip to Hawaii. We managed to find trails in the back of the park (with the help from hiking locals) but most people just skipped the National Parks. What a shame!

The National Parks are one of the few essential services we can all agree on.

"Gas prices, get used to it," says our President. How will that effect visitation and the need for volunteers and paid employees with the decline in the economy in every sector. It would appear his voter base wants it that way. They may get their way.

Anon April 7 1:22 AM
Levin, Limbaugh, Drudge, Fox News ? Nope. They don't control our government.
The Silent Majority is speaking. The Fiscally Responsible are speaking. Time to listen Up.
All the concern for Future Generations, so often mentioned in these forums, you would think that some little mention of our country going bankrupt might seep into the conversation. Not relavent ? Think again. At the rate we are going, Future Generations will not be concerned with our National Parks. They will have much bigger fish to fry.

Ron (obxguys)

In response to the question of "why dont they work and keep the park open, they will get paid anyway...." There is actually a federal law that makes it illegal for nonessential federal workers to voluntarily come to work during a shutdown. It is true that federal employees were retroactively paid after the 1995-1996 shutdowns, but that repyment was not automatic; it required legislation.

Way to make it all about CAHA again samsdad1 - unreal.

To my English friend, if you need some help finding places to go, regardless of the shutdown, I would love to help, please do not let a few angry people deter you from visiting this country, or you could just visit Canada, they have some lovely parks I believe are still open for business.

It would be a shame if the parks close because budget negotiations have, at this late hour, turned into a pretext for fighting the culture wars.

Until the military, social security, Medicare and prior tax cuts for billionaires are part of the discussion there's no point in even talking. But all those entitlements are part of the untouchable reality of most conservatives. No wonder the country is going broke: don't tax but spend anyway.

I'm sorry, but I just can't reconcile the term 'reality check' with tea party rhetoric, and really don't like having such oxymorons associated with the national parks.

Disclaimer: I'm sitting on a hillside surounded by a national park and my NPS spouse is heading off on one of her last days to work for the forseeable future. My righteous rage is rising stronger than any fool wearing a tri-corner hat.

Interesting and widely successful PR campaign. That's all that counts. No reality needed. Respectfully

Re: Rick B Sounds to me like a very selfish concern. You are all being played, along with the military and others to make it as painful as possible. The Democratic Pres., Senate and the House were supposed to present a budget before the last election but were afraid that it wouldn't be politically wise. NO substance only deception and ...okay lies! Look at the CBO projections and it should be very clear that without a change this country is in the toilet.Prove me wrong. I hope I am.Respectfully

Please save the parks for the people. Before you cut the parks make sure to visit the majestic sights that are inspiring and majestic.

re: comment from Reality Check: "The Democratic Pres., Senate and the House were supposed to present a budget before the last election..."

Not so many years ago, the federal fiscal year began on July 1st. That fiscal calendar was shifted to an October 1st start because Congress was often failing to do its job and pass the required budget bills by the deadline.

Sadly, the shift hasn't helped much; in too many years, partisan wrangling has resulted in finger-pointing and political posturing instead of productive work. In too many cases, our elected representatives are more interested in who gets the credit - or the blame - for any subject you can imagine rather than producing results.

Perhaps one way to promote some improvement would be to suspend all pay and benefits for all members of Congress and their staffs if all necessary budget bills aren't passed by the start of a new fiscal year...and require them to stay on the job without pay, 7 days a week, until they complete an important task that's part of their "job description."

Now...any bets on the odds we'll ever see that practical solution? :-)

I don't know why we would expect our elected representatives to behave any better than Joe Public commenting on the internet. Fixing our fiscal mess will require sacrifices, but from what I've seen neither party is ready to sacrifice its own sacred cow (pick your preferred entitlement). So, we keep going along grandstanding on a few measly billions in cuts when the real issue is in the trillion range. And down the road the problem grows.

Re: Jim Burnett If people get [angry] enough and they may when they get hit with what's coming. Going to be an interesting correction. Either that or we're done for and it seems at times that's what the aim is.

No, what they are saying is the parks will CLOSE. No one may go backpacking, hiking, rafting, canoeing, etc. I mean good luck enforcing it but anyone within the boundaries of a closed park could be charged with trespassing on Federal land. And if the government isn't involved who will maintain the trails? Bathrooms won't be open which may not seem like that large of a deal, but think if hundreds or thousands of people all went on the ground along the trail (eww), no one to pick up trash (except visitors, and trust me most are not as good at that as you would like to think). What about road maintainence? Many of the parks have remote roads that require year round attention to remain passable. So we like to bang on the government, but somebody has to be there to maintain our natural jewels. One person might not make the impact I speak of... but do you really believe you are the only person who has the same idea? No, thousands do and without some kind of infrastructure in place to manage the details our National Parks will quickly fall into disrepair. From which the recovery may cost us more than we saved in the short term by shutting them down.

Spot on, Reality check! The Democrats knew that their chances in the last election were dire if they passed another budget of deeper debt and spend, spend, spend as they usually do. Well, turns out it backfired and got a passel of 'em tossed out. Now they are crying about all the "children who will starve" if Paul Ryan's budget plan is passed... And you are MOST CERTAINLY spot on about the future of our parks if we keep kicking the can down the road..."future generations" may see fit that to pay off an even more massive debt by selling off our national parks! So what's it gonna be? Gonna still kick that can....?

This comment was edited to remove gratuitous language.--Ed.

Seems like a bunch of folks are missing the point...390 parks will close, 15K or so NPS employees (1 million or so feds in all) will be out of work for an uncertain amount of time with no certainty they will be paid for the time they are furloughed. Don't get lost in ideology, real people are invloved.

"Way to make it all about CAHA again samsdad1 - unreal. To my English friend, if you need some help finding places to go, regardless of the shutdown, I would love to help, please do not let a few angry people deter you from visiting this country, or you could just visit Canada, they have some lovely parks I believe are still open for business."

Now let us publically know what he can do that compares to the NPS system that may no longer be available to him? What do you have against me as this is a website about the NPS and its issues. I simply am expressing the hypocracy of so many people that claim one thing and then sue for another. Kind of like sueing against coal and oil for clean energy and sueing to stop wind farms and solar farms.

OH it is real, really it is about access. You will not have access to the park system if the government shuts down. This is EXACTLY what we are experiencing now in CAPE HATTERAS!!!! We make plans months in advance and pow a bird lays an egg that actually hatches and it shuts down 1.24 miles of beach each incident. Seems more damaging than a bunch of squirrels in D.C.

I am sorry, but I have been to CAHA many, many times, actually got married on the beach there and have NEVER had any problems with access to anything. If I do find that there is a closure, I go somewhere else. Yes some areas are closed and in that way, access is restricted, but the park as a whole is more open than "closed".

Samsdad1, according to the approved ORV management plan, there will be 27.9 miles of year-round
designated ORV routes on the seashore, 12.7 miles of seasonal routes,
and 26.4 miles of vehicle-free miles.

Doesn't that provide enough -- more than 54 miles out of the 72-mile-long national seashore -- certainty and beach miles as to where you can go and gain access? According to the seashore website's Frequently Asked Questions (which you can download here), it seems quite a bit of certainty, although not all, can be predicted:

"Based on recent years’ nesting activity, it is highly likely that prescribed shorebird protections will significantly restrict and temporarily preclude ORV access to Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point, portions of South Beach, Hatteras Inlet Spit, North Ocracoke Spit, and South Point Ocracoke during the portions of the spring and summer. Popular pedestrian beaches, including Coquina Beach, all village beaches on Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke
Day Use Area will be open to pedestrians; and many additional miles of beach will be open to ORV access throughout the summer."

Additionally, the FAQs say....

"While temporary resource closures to protect nesting shorebirds and sea turtles are expected to occur between mid-March and mid- to late-August, including at some popular sites, there will be many, many miles of beach open to both pedestrian and ORV access on any given day of any given week during those months. For example, on July 8, 2009, there were approximately 22 miles of beach open to ORVs and pedestrians, another 26 miles open to only pedestrians (that was a total of 48 miles of open beach!), while 19 miles of beach were closed or impractical to access due to Cape Hatteras National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Cape Hatteras National Seashore resource protection closures in place at the time. By late August, most of the resource closures had been lifted."

Hi. I'm the selfish one - remember me? I want to eat and not have to worry about paying my rent just to accommodate a group of amateur social engineers thousands of miles away who want to attack women's health services and public radio, other regressive social agendas.

I sit here in a small and isolated community whose entire annual survival depends on the tourist trade to the park we live at and support. Hundreds of people - the town averages between 800 and 2000 residents, depending upon the season - ensure that they can buy heating oil and food and clothes and such by the work they do over a short summer tourist season. Forbidding the rangers and curatorial staff and administrative and other NPS staff from doing their work to get ready to receive the public is a malignancy foisted upon the town and park. We are a small park, but one of hundreds nationwide. Multiply out the human factor.

That is just the Park Service, which is one of the smallest budget items around the federal sandbox. It's just like libraries and kittens though - easy low hanging fruit for the social engineers.

Now let's take a look at some of the other 'selfish' ones. Like the soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors, who will be fighting the nation's war for the next two weeks but are scheduled to only get paid for one week. I don't see Congress putting their own funding on hold, and see ZERO sacrifice on their part.

Decades ago I was a card carrying conservative. I bought the theories about "this should" and "people just have to blahblah" and such nonsense. Thank goodness, I became aware of the fact that when theories hit flesh, people bleed. I developed a conscience.

It is time for more people to realize the human factor, develop a conscience, and get over their social theories. Fix this!

This is the Most sad thing that I Heard of. There are Millions of families that are taking vacation and have been working all year to be able to afford a vacation. The thing about the National & State parks give the families that are just getting bye to be able to take them on VACATION. Why not take all the politicans and CUT there pay down and make them see how it is to Just make ins meat. There are other ways to make budget cuts. This is sad

I am another English man who is due to visit a number of the National Parks starting early May. I and my other half expect to spend a fair number of dollars during our visit - this in addition to the already booked hotels etc. Can the US afford not to have my money and the that of others on the tour?
Having visited the US many times (Alaska, Hawaii, the major cities from Maine to Florida, from Seattle to San Diego, and from Houston to Chicago) I can see no alternatives for us within the USA if I have to cancel because the things I wish to see are no longer available.
And no, as suggested earlier, Canada isn't a possible alternative because we've visited from the Maritimes to Vancouver Island.

We have a business right outside of Point Reyes National Seashore. We have had almost 6 months of unusual bad weather- lots of rain, and cold. It is hardly letting up. Now that we are getting some sunny days, people are starting to come out. If the park gets shut down, it will really hurt. There is not too much more that we can take. Fragile is a good word for it.

It sounds like the republocats need to stop funding the war and fund our national park service! Everyone is protesting in Wisconsin and we need to be standing tall outside of Exxon. Too much waste and abuse! We are all victims!

Really, I'm sorry but we own the National Parks. Its our money that pays for them and we have the right to go into the parks because they are public lands. I'll be glad to get a no trespassing ticket because it won't stand up in court. Its time the corrupt politicians need to do whats right for the taxpayers. I simply will not stand up for this kind of BS, the president is just trying to make this a sticking point to get his baby way. Just cut some fat God knows there is a lot of that in his budget, instead of cutting what we want to do and spend our time. Closing parks like Yosemite which makes money shows you just how corrupt this president is.

Has anyone noticed that this article and most of the posts are two years old?

Yet it sounds as if it was written just today.

Perhaps it's true that some things never change.

I find it funny how every body blames the other guy over this mess our nation is in.Problem 1 try to find something made in the USA anylonger.Greed and EPA thanks for that one.If the National Parks Service has such a money problem where is the money coming from for all these fancy new visitor centers all over the country and why are we adding more lands if we can't afford what we have.Let's quit letting the liberal press lead us around by the nose.

Oh, for pete's sake.

A plea to stop just blaming the other guy, followed by an attack on the "liberal press". What fertilizer.

Yes, your probably part of the problem not the solution.And when was the last time your liberal press had a solution to the financial mess our nation is in other than lip service. O that's right more fertilizer! Life is what you make of it not what you expect the next guy to give you in life,thank you.

As Lee pointed out above, this story was originally posted two years ago, so although the subject is still relevant, a more current Traveler story on the same general topic is found here.