Opinion: Close National Parks During the Shutdown

The consequences of allowing the public free access to national parks without any supervision or maintenance operations are to great a risk, according to a former director of the National Park Service.
January 7, 2019, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jonathan B Jarvis, former director of the National Park Service and current executive director for the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity at the University of California, Berkeley, writes an opinion piece for The to argue that keeping national parks open during the ongoing federal government shutdown could have disastrous consequences.

Leaving the parks open without these essential staff is equivalent to leaving the Smithsonian museums open without any staff to protect the priceless artefacts. Yet as a result of the government shutdown, which furloughed most park staff, this is what has happened. It is a violation of the stewardship mandate, motivated only by politics. While the majority of the public will be respectful, there will always be a few who take advantage of the opportunity to do lasting damage.

Indeed, reports of almost-dystopian dysfunction were quick to emerge from national parks like Death Valley and Joshua Tree in California since the beginning of the shutdown. Most recently, the National Park Service announced an "unprecedented" decision to "dip into entrance fee funds to pay for expanded operations during a government shutdown that has furloughed many of its workers," according to an article by Amanda Morris.

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Published on Thursday, January 3, 2019 in The Guardian
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