National Parks to remain accessible during government shutdown
With a government shut down looming, the National Parks across the country say they will remain open, with a few slight changes.
Here in Alaska-- during the month of January-- the concerns are not abundant.
The National Parks across the state, like Sitka or Denali, won't look any different. The parks will remain open unless there is a safety concern. Some facilities will be closed but access to the parks will remain open.
Jeremy Barnum, the acting Chief of Public Affairs for the National Parks Service, released the following statements in light of the impending government shutdown:
"We fully expect the government to remain open, however in the event of a shutdown, national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures," Barnum said. "For example, this means that roads that have already been open will remain open (think snow removal) and vault toilets (wilderness type restrooms) will remain open. However services that require staffing and maintenance such as campgrounds and full service restrooms, will not be operating. The American public and especially our veterans who come to our nation's capital will find war memorials and open air parks open to the public."
Barnum gave examples of services that could remain open. They include a free-standing gift shop, lodge, restaurant or gas station that requires no assistance from the park to operate. Assistance could include but not be limited to snow removal, working as a cashier, unlocking gates and duties of that nature. However, if a private concessionaire has worked out in advance a way to remove snow or trash without the assistance of the park, they may be able to continue operations.
Example of services that would not be open include a gift shop inside a visitors center because a park ranger would not be available to unlock the visitors center or to staff the visitors center. A gas station on a road inside the park where it snowed overnight, making it impassable, would not be open if it relies on the park for snow removal.
Example of areas that may see restricted access include some public lands, trails and sites. Some parks are in winter season and see many skiers. The parks may choose to restrict access to some areas if there is a high risk of avalanche or it's a common spot for injuries since there will not be a regular patrol of the area.
Additionally, sensitive cultural areas on all public land may see restricted access to protect the artifacts and objects.
The National Parks Service is prioritizing access to the most accessible and most iconic areas of parks and public lands. Each park, monument, recreation area, etc. will have different plans in place.
Once again, these rules and restrictions not only apply to the National Parks in Alaska but every National Park in the U.S.
On Monday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will host Governor Bill Walker, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, along with several prominent Alaska business stakeholders, in Washington, D.C. for an "announcement on important Alaska priorities at the Department."
Of those businesses, Della Trumble, the business manager for the King Cove Village Corporation, will be in attendance.
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