U.S. Government Shutdown Closes National Parks, Hurts Local Economies

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One of the worst side effects from the shutdown of the U.S. government has been the complete closure of all of the country’s national parks. Not only is this a major blow to outdoor enthusiasts who love spending time in those spectacular locations but it is also has a major impact on the cities and towns that are close to the parks. With the closure of the park system, those communities are losing important revenue each and everyday with tourism and park-related jobs coming to a standstill while the folks in Washington figure out what they’re going to do next.

Just how bad will it get? That’s tough to say. But the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) put out a memo last week, prior to the shutdown, that estimated that as much as $30 million in revenue would be lost to satellite communities each and every day that the parks are closed. This time of year the parks see as many as 750,000 daily visitors and with travelers now canceling their plans, that means that the lack of tourism dollars will be felt far and wide.

Yesterday, when the shutdown officially went into effect, the NPCA’s acting president Theresa Pierno released a statement from the organization expressing their disapproval of how our elected officials in Washington are behaving. It is a sentiment that is shared by most Americans at the moment. Here is a snippet of what Pierno had to say:

“The National Parks Conservation Association is deeply disappointed that Congress and the President have failed to reach agreement on a budget deal that consequently has forced the federal government and our 401 national parks to shut down indefinitely. The closure of America’s crown jewels threatens the livelihood of park businesses and gateway communities; the more than 21,000 National Park Service staff we expect to be furloughed; and countless American families and international visitors who rely on national parks being open for business to enjoy our national heritage.”

 With no real end to the shutdown in sight, it is tough to say when the parks will reopen. As the ordeal continues to drag on, more and more small towns will suffer the consequences. But even beyond that, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers and national park lovers are all being denied access to some of the best places on the planet right now. That’s just wrong no matter how you look at it.

Kraig Becker