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What Does a Government Shutdown Mean for National Parks?

National Parks in the US are run by the National Park Service, which is a department within the Department of Agriculture. As such, the national parks are administered by the US government. People might wonder how the government shutdown that was forced by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi means to national parks.

You might be surprised to know that this doesn’t mean that national parks and monuments are closed and that there is a massive layoff of park service employees. Neither is the case. The national parks remain open as they would if there was no government shutdown. Employees that would normally be laid off are still laid off and those who would be retained are still retained. Areas within the national parks that would normally be closed are still closed, but other areas are open.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t any impact. During a US government shutdown, National Park Service personnel are not available to provide guidance, assistance, or emergency response. Park visitors are warned to visit at their own risk. Concessions to the public that are run by the park service are closed.

Aside from that, essential functions still occur at the park. For instance, Crater Lake still keeps the roads plowed. The employees living in the park are still cared for and kept safe. There is simply far fewer interactions with visitors to the park and tours are suspended. 

A government shutdown is primarily a huge inconvenience to visitors to national parks. Of course, this is not a concern for those in Congress who chose to shut down the government simply because they didn’t want to allocate a relatively small expenditure for the safety of all US citizens. They don’t worry about the people

. Despite it all, the parks remain open. 


What do you think?


Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. It is truly sad, in part because there are roughly 800,000 people working for the US Federal Government that are on forced (and for many unpaid) furlough.) I feel back for all of them!

    Thanks for sharing this Rex.

    • Yes, it is sad. Congress is in a position to end the shutdown, but at this point, they aren’t likely to. Congress doesn’t really care about the ‘average person’ since all of them still get paid a large amount, whether the government is shut down or not.

      I’d be in favor of a new law that would force massive pay cuts for congressmen and senators whenever there is a shutdown. Unfortunately, such a law would need to be written and passed by Congress before it could be made a law, and most congressmen will even consider taking a pay cut.

      • I think we have finally achieved a government that cannot get out of its own way, from the top to the bottom.

        Your law is very interesting. I am not sure it would have to be a law. Just get one senator to announce they won’t draw a salary until the shutdown is done.

        • That has actually happened in the past without causing any change. As it is, we have a president who hasn’t received money since he took office. To be more accurate, each time he has received a paycheck, he’s donated it right back into the government, such as into the national park system.

          The same thing has happened in regard to term limits for legislators. A number of congressmen have proposed it and many congressmen and senators have voluntarily retired, but it hasn’t changed a thing. One of the most brilliant people in the legislature is volunarily leaving or I guess has already left; Trey Gowdy. I haven’t seen any impact on the rest.

          As for the government not being able to get out of its own way, that started in 1945 and it simply hasn’t gotten any better. Oh, cutting red tape, getting rid of needless regulations, and ending superfluous government programs has been going on for the past two years, and that is a step in the right direction, but there is a huge amount more that needs to be done before it can be claimed that the issue is getting better.

          • There are many historians and economists that argue the beginning of US government (central) issues began with the Civil War and the initial income taxes. Any nation that creates income taxes generates one of two things.

            1. Wealthy people find a way around the taxes.
            2. Money moves out of the country.

            One of the economists at the Unversity of Chicago has said, the reason our current president won’t release his taxes is actually reason 2.

            That said, term limits are a good idea.
            But honestly, at this point, we need to reform all three branches of our government. The reality is we have the technology for citizen voting. Its time for us to actually allow the majority of the people have a voice.

    • Some parts of the IRS will shut down, other parts won’t, and most of nearly 80,000 IRS employees are furloughed (leave without pay).

      According to the IRS, what WON’T be shut down include:

      Issuing refunds;

      Processing Form 1040X amended returns;

      All audit functions and examinations of returns;

      Processing paper tax returns that do include remittances; and
      Taxpayer services, such as answering taxpayer questions.

      Activities that will stop include Service Center processing after the point of “batching”; processing nondisaster relief transcripts, income verification express service/return, and income verification services; most IRS headquarters and administrative functions not related to the safety of life and protection of property; nonautomated collections; legal counsel; information systems functions (except as necessary to prevent loss of data in process and revenue collections); and planning, research, and training and development activities.

      In other words, file as you normally would, or you could be in violation and would have to pay a penalty.

    • True. Non-essential departments are closed or closing. Many departments stay open, with reduced manpower and capabilities, though. The zoos and the Smithsonian will remain operating, but with reduced manpower, they will or have closed to the public. Aside from the thousands of people that are placed on unpaid furlough, the main impact is to public services.


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