Updated: National Parks Quickly Reopening After Budget Impasse Temporarily Resolved
Editor's note: This adds comments from the National Parks Conservation Association on the reopening of the National Park System.
National parks across the country quickly began reopening Thursday in the wake of Congress' move to temporarily resolve the budget impasse and fund the federal government.
While a small handful of parks -- Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Zion, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain national parks, Cedar Breaks, Natural Bridges and Statue of Liberty national monuments, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial -- were able to open the past few days with state funding, the rest of the park system Thursday morning worked on reopening.
Across Twitter, parks as diverse as the Obed Wild and Scenic River and Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Battlefield announced they were back in business. Yellowstone National Park issued a release proclaiming that, "The gates to the world’s first national park are open again after a 16 day closure."
"All of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park are open to visitors. All roads in the park are open with the exception of the section linking Tower Junction and Canyon over Dunraven Pass, which has closed for the season," the park added. "Outside the park’s Northeast Entrance, US-212 remains open through Silver Gate and Cooke City east to the junction with WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. The road over Beartooth Pass has closed for the season."
In Ohio, the James A. Garfield National Historic Site said it would resume its normal schedule (Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.) Friday, though it was opening at noon Thursday. A site release added that he popular “Evening with Edgar Allan Poe” event scheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday, October 23-24, will still take place. Tickets would be sold through the site.
Slow to ramp back up, however, was the National Park Service's main website, www.nps.gov, which was still off-line by mid-morning Thursday.
At the National Parks Conservation Association, acting-President Theresa Pierno welcomed the reopening of the park system, but said a long-term approach to funding the federal government in general and the National Park Service specifically was needed.
"Unfortunately, for our national parks, and the communities, businesses and visitors they serve, the budget agreement is a short-term solution that does nothing to address the long-term needs of the parks," she said in a prepared statement.
“Whether it is an unnecessary government shutdown or a damaging set of budget cuts, our national parks and the people who enjoy and depend on them continue to suffer from a failed budget process. Through this disastrous shutdown, local economies have already lost half-a-billion dollars, businesses have suffered, and too many people have had their lives disrupted unnecessarily. The parks and the American people need and deserve a genuine, long-term budget solution that keeps our parks completely open and ends the slow-motion shutdown that is occurring under the sequester.
“The public outcry and political support for re-opening our national parks should surprise nobody," said Ms. Pierno. "According to a recent poll, nine out of ten Americans—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—want and expect the federal government to keep national parks open, protected, and funded. As we move beyond this shutdown, we urge Americans to demand that Congress and the administration pursue a genuine long-term solution that will keep our national parks fully open and adequately funded to serve visitors and protect our national heritage."