Last night, the United States Congress chose to engage in partisan politics rather than pass a clean appropriations bill. The Federal Government has been shut down this morning as a result. All 401 sites managed by the National Park Service are closed as a result of the government shutdown. Visitors staying in a campground or in-park hotel now have 48 hours to leave.
Not only are our national parks a natural treasure, but they are also an important part of our economy. As noted in a previous blog post, national parks generated $30.1 billion in economic activity and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide in 2011.
It is highly disappointing that our members of Congress cannot put our nation, our economy and our citizens before their own political ambitions. As a result of their inaction, government workers are being furloughed, federal agencies are closed, our national parks are being deserted and our economy is being put at risk. If I didn't do my job I'd get fired. Congress, do your job and pass a clean spending bill to reopen our government.
Update 10/8/13 - Congress Hasn't Moved; Parks Still Closed
With the Federal Government in partial shutdown for more than a week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has yet put a clean spending bill up for a vote. As a result, our national parks remained closed along with the rest of the government,. The National Park Conservation Association estimates that our National parks could see a loss of more than 750,000 daily visitors and an economic loss to gateway communities of as much as $30 million for each day the parks are closed. Congress needs to act to get our government and economy running again.
Update 10/17/13 - Congress Reaches Last-Minute Deal; Parks Reopen
After the the Federal Government had been in partial shutdown for more that two weeks, the U.S. Senate finally reached a deal to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. The House of Representatives passed the measure and President Obama signed it before a critical deadline. As of today, the parks are reopening.
According to the National Park Foundation, approximately 1.1 million people who would have normally visited the parks during the brief time there was government shutdown were unable to. This has resulted in an estimated economic loss of over $1billion to local park communities nationwide which has caused terrible consequences for local businesses that support the parks. The argument that shutting down the government was an effort to protect the government is specious.
And far too many families were prevented from enjoying the outdoors together.