Update: Saturday, Oct. 12
The Department of Interior allowed several states to use state funding to open some national parks on Oct. 12. These states include, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota and New York. Responding to requests from Governors of at least four states, who were concerned about the economic impacts caused by park closures, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has allowed these states to pay for park operations. While The Wilderness Society appreciates the states' willingness to reopen their national parks, we believe the only long-term solution is to pass a clean continuing resolution to reopen the entire federal government.
The U.S. plunged into its first federal shutdown in 17 years last week when Congress was unable to agree on a way to fund the government.
This government shutdown will negatively affect agencies across the country, both immediately and in the months to come. Not excluded from the shutdown's impacts are America's public lands (this includes national parks, wildlife refuges and national forests), wildlife and outdoor recreation economy.
Shutdown effects are already being felt in national our parks. Tell Congress to end the shutdown and save our wild places!
Here are the top eight ways the government shutdown is bad for America's wildlands and wildlife:
1.) National parks and public lands are closed indefinitely
All 401 national parks are closed to the public, along with national monuments, 561 federal wildlife refuges and national forests.
If a government shutdown occurs, all 401 national parks & NPS facilities will be closed. More info, FAQs & updates http://t.co/Dx9Fjwqhbe
— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) September 30, 2013
2.) Drilling will continue with little safety enforcement
Drilling hasn't entirely stopped on federal lands for shutdowns, but some safety inspections have, increasing the chance of environmental disaster. Keeping inspectors on the ground to evaluate the leaks and spills following the flood is critical.
3.) Educational and recreational access to public lands is being denied
Campgrounds nationwide have been closed, environmental education programs have been cancelled and access has been denied to hunters and fisherman planning to enjoy our public lands.
Due to the federal government shutdown, this feed will be interrupted. Look forward to more education in your national parks when we return.
— NPS Education (@NPSEducation) October 1, 2013
4.) Work related to protecting endangered species is suspended
Endangered Species Act enforcement has also been suspended, leaving vulnerable species unprotected and open to poaching and exploitation.
5.) Renewable energy leases on federal lands will be halted
America’s public lands play a critical role in supplying our nation with energy. Leasing of public lands for energy development have been affected by the shutdown. In Colorado, for example, a much anticipated solar energy lease sale could be halted, further delaying clean energy production in the southwest. All Oct. lease sales in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah have been delayed.
6.) Lack of federal employees will hinder energy permit monitoring and issuing
When and how we develop is important, which is why grassroots community input as well as government staff and procedures are critical to ensuring development is guided to the lowest impact areas. A lack of federal employees (and the subsequent catch-up work following the end of the shutdown) means agencies cannot effectively monitor energy permits and issue timely ones in the future.
7.) U.S. economy is losing billions in lost dollars that would be generated by public lands
America's economy will suffer more than $2 billion in lost dollars each day that would have been spent on outdoor recreation pursuits across the country, hurting local communities and the people who depend on that investment.
Shutdown could cost businesses $30 million a day—and that's just the national parks part. http://t.co/3xJxmfPjhU
— Monika Bauerlein (@MonikaBauerlein) September 30, 2013
8.) Threats to wildlands aren't over when the government re-opens
Even when the government re-opens, cuts from sequestration will continue to harm public wild lands.
What Americans are saying about the government shutdown
— National Parks News (@NPCA) October 1, 2013
— Maria Hechanova (@MariaHechanova) October 1, 2013
— Wilderness Society (@Wilderness) October 1, 2013
— US Dept of Interior (@Interior) October 1, 2013
Not sure why a government shutdown includes completely closing the National Parks. They're still there, and still our public lands.
— Aimee Fausser (@Aimee_Fausser) October 1, 2013
Sad to see any public lands closed, but Americans will rally around all their parks—local, state & national alike! http://t.co/U01ysOsYOu
— NRPA news (@NRPA_news) October 1, 2013
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is closed today because of the Federal Government shutdown. pic.twitter.com/BPnUK6FT1X
— Joe McGee (@JoeinAkron) October 1, 2013
Signs have been posted stating that Rock Creek Park, a National Park Service site, is closed. pic.twitter.com/xRGsJhB63H
— Mark Strattner (@nats10mil) October 1, 2013
Outfitters and concessioners providing services to the public in National Parks shutdown too. Hope the #shutdown doesn't last long. Stinks.
— America Outdoors (@aoaconference) October 1, 2013