After rating the top National Parks and celebrating the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day it would be irresponsible of me not to report on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s plan to keep the public from visiting their National Parks during the federal government shutdown which could last until mid October.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CONTINGENCY PLAN
As stated in its original authorizing legislation, the National Park Service mission is to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”
Effective immediately upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to close and secure national park facilities and grounds in order to suspend all activities except for those that are essential to respond to emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. Day use visitors will be instructed to leave the park immediately as part of Phase 1 closures. Visitors utilizing overnight concession accommodations and campgrounds will be notified to make alternate arrangements and depart the park as part of Phase 2. Wherever possible, park roads will be closed and access will be denied. National and regional offices and support centers will be closed and secured, except where they are needed to support excepted personnel. These steps will be enacted as quickly as possible while still ensuring visitor and employee safety as well as the integrity of park resources.
The shutdown process will take place in two phases. Phase 1 includes all activities to notify the public of the closure, secure government records and property, and begin winding down operations to essential activities only.
Phase 1 will take place over a day and a half.
Phase 2 will be initiated by the Director and includes the complete shutdown of all concession facilities and commercial visitor services.
Overnight visitors will be given two days to make alternate arrangements and depart the parks. At the end of Phase 2 operations are expected to be at the minimum levels defined below. The entire closure process –both phases –will be completed within four days.
So, when the news recaps veterans breaking through barricades to get into the World War II memorial, do a little cheer. Flood the streets and demand access to these beautiful places!