Group Pledges Funding to Clean Facilities at Shenandoah National Park

Cheryl Sanders
January 10, 2019

The National Park Service will steer entrance fees toward keeping parks operating during the continued partial government shutdown, a move cheered by members of Utah's congressional delegation who had urged the Interior Department to do what it can to avoid shuttering the nation's most popular tourist destinations. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) stipulates that fees charged by federal parks are created to fund services for visitors - not the maintenance of parks.

But the shutdown, now in its 17th day, has furloughed thousands of National Park Service employees who staff visitor centers, police the backcountry, clean the bathrooms and empty garbage cans.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana warned Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Saturday of "significant risk to property and public health" without funding.

Three people have died in accidents at national parks since the start of the government shutdown last month. Under the law, 80 percent of the money collected must be spent on the park while 20 percent can go to fund activities at other park sites. "This is not how a rational president behaves, and the Natural Resources Committee will demand answers about whether these moves are legally justified".

These group of hikers met up Sunday morning to enjoy the outdoors and help clean up parts of Shenandoah National Park.
. "The president expects them to either pay more to keep the toilets clean out of their own pockets or pay millions of dollars for his ridiculous wall".

Ultimately, Purdy supports the move, although reluctant, because she would like to see park workers get paid and she thinks national parks could use the resources.

The statement noted that the visitor fee money "would typically be used for future projects at parks", but the lapse in appropriations for the Park Service meant the funds "can and should be used to provide immediate assistance and services to highly visited parks".

While visitors could enter the park without a vehicle, it's not recommended.

Heavy snow and the shutting of the park's restaurant, inn and other services led to the decision, park officials said.

The Fee Demonstration Program, which later became the FLREA, allowed parks to keep all revenue from visitor fees rather than send it back to the Treasury as long as it was put back in the parks to enhance the visitor services and experience.

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

The National Park Service, citing aging facilities, increased visitation and unreliable funding, hasn't kept pace with infrastructure repairs, said Restore America's Parks' campaign organizer Michael Dabbs, during a 2017 meeting at the WildEdge Brewing Collective in downtown Cortez.

Even as Trump officials sought to maintain operations at key parks, some are closing up shop.

With no one to clean, empty and maintain the trashcans and bathrooms, Zaharias anxious that trash - and human feces - would pile up and conditions would worsen to the point of shuttering the park.

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