National Parks Reportedly Lost Out On Nearly $11 Million During Shutdown

REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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The National Park Service (NPS) missed out on nearly $11 million in revenue from park visitors during the 35-day partial government shutdown, The Hill reports.

NPS officials completely or partially closed many national parks during the shutdown. Of the parks that remained open, maintenance and sanitation services were limited as employees were furloughed. (RELATED: The Government Shut Down, But Trump Will Keep National Parks Open)

“Most of these costs were in our region because we have big winter visitation parks that remained accessible to visitors at the start of the shutdown,” NPS regional fee manager Cindy David told Pacific West Region staff in an emailed two-part document Friday, according to The Hill.

The parks in David’s region include those in California and Hawaii and are popular with tourists during the winter.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt allowed national parks to dip into Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) funds, made up of park entrance fees, in early January to bring back basic services to roughly 80 national parks.

“We had 23 parks use this funding to pay for law enforcement staff, custodial, visitor services and some other salary costs,” David wrote in the document.

A car is driven in Joshua Tree National Park, California, in this photo taken April 16, 2015. REUTERS/ Sam Mircovich

A car is driven in Joshua Tree National Park, California, in this photo taken April 16, 2015. REUTERS/ Sam Mircovich

Bernhardt’s order is going through an internal legal review at the Department of the Interior. The acting secretary’s directive was approved by the DOI’s legal counsel before it was implemented, but Democrats and environmentalists allege the order is illegal and violates the FLREA.

“Since [the FLREA’s] original passage, it’s always been interpreted by the Park Service as not available for operations,” Former NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis, who served in the Obama administration, said, according to The Hill.

The NPS did not respond to a request for comment.

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