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Park Service dipping into entrance fees amid shutdown

Park Service dipping into entrance fees amid shutdown

In an unprecedented move, the National Park Service has made a decision to dip into entrance fee funds to pay for expanded operations during a government shutdown that has furloughed many of its workers.

While there are questions about the legality of using visitor fees to maintain park operations, the approach announced Sunday was included previously in a shutdown contingency plan for the agency. "I want to see our parks open, but I want to see our entire government open the right way, following the law".

"The law is clear: if the federal government is shut down, our National Parks must also be closed to protect public safety and pristine spaces", said McCollum, who recently became chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department. "At least 80 percent of the money stays in the park where it is collected, and the other 20 percent is used to benefit parks that do not collect fees". Three people have died in national parks since the shutdown began more than two weeks ago.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, issued a statement as well on Sunday slamming the administration's decision and saying the committee would demand answers about the legal justification behind the move.

"The government shutdown means that our handsome national parks are overflowing with trash", the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association said in a Twitter statement on Friday, calling for people to join Muslim youth in cleaning up national parks.

The Park Service is part of the Department of the Interior, one of the agencies affected by the prolonged partial government shutdown that began in late December.

"The burdens being born by local communities should be addressed by park service personnel within days", Bernhardt said in a memo, "particularly at the bigger parks such as Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks".

Zaharias knew that one of the first problems with not having park service workers around would be the bathrooms.

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"We aren't releasing more detail because the incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown", Munoz said.

Property and Environment Research Center research fellow Shawn Regan, a former National Park Service (NPS) ranger, applauded the Trump administration's unprecedented use of park entrance fees.

Trump said he will consider declaring a national emergency to use existing funding for the project if Congress does not agree to his terms.

She said it was especially concerning given the fact that many of these parks have already lost a significant amount of park fee money - sometimes in the millions of dollars - by not collecting fees over the holiday season, when many of them have increased visitors. "Many park facilities are 50 to 70 years old".

Sunday's announcement was met with criticism from some corners.

Some parks, including those in Utah, are littered with garbage with restrooms locked and roads blocked because of piling snow.

The Journal contributed to this article.