Some National Parks Re-open While Others Scramble to Cleanup Following Shutdown
After President Trump’s announcement of a temporary re-opening of the government after the longest shutdown in history, the National Park Service announced select parks will finally reopen. During the shutdown, most parks were not closed initially, unlike previous shutdowns. However, trash and waste left behind by unscrupulous visitors forced the National Park Service to close many parks to alleviate any further degradation concerns.
Now, the Associated Press reports that hundreds of parks will be reopening on a “rolling schedule.” Some parks, however, will open later than others due to a severe need for cleanup throughout the grounds. The Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Virgin Islands National Park were two parks that opened over the weekend.
Joshua Tree was another park that opened over the weekend, but the opening was met with protest from the local community over the damage caused to the environment and the surrounding economy. Jacelyn Kong, a park visitor who showed up the to the protest, told the LA Times, “It’s sad to see people destroy the parks. She continued, “I’ve seen reports that Joshua trees were being burned down, parks people are not taking care of them as they should. I think it’s vital that the government needs to be reopened to keep these national treasures alive.”
As for other parks, the process toward opening them to the public is underway. “We appreciate the support of state and local partners nationwide who stepped up to offer support to national parks,” National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith said in a statement. He continues, “We are grateful to have the dedicated men and women of the National Park Service back at work, serving the American people and welcoming visitors to their national parks.”
National Park staff will finally be going back to work, after forgoing two paychecks during the shutdown. Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement, “For rangers and other park staff, it will mean returning to our national parks, assessing the terrible damage done to them while they were open with such limited staff, and once again welcoming visitors to the places they all love. Now is when the real work begins. The damage done to our parks will be felt for weeks, months or even years.”
To learn more about park openings, visitors should contact the parks directly, or visit park websites for the latest information on accessibility and visitor services.