EXTERNAL - Shutdown Impacts to National Parks
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ParkStateGeneral IssueSpecific Impact
Date of Intel
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Disclaimer: Examples have been pulled from a variety of trustworthy sources (newspapers, testimony, interviews, etc.) NPCA hasn’t been able to verify every example.
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Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
NYDelayed Access Due to DamageAssess and clean-up the fire damage at the visitor center. The fire occurred at the start of shutdown. 1/25/2019
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Mount RainierWASnow Removalno snow removal for public access happening since before Christmas there is a lot of snow to clear. It means plowing a highway for 11 miles from Longmire to Paradise uphill 2500 feet in elevation to the main visitor center and large parking lot which is now covered by at least 3 feet of snow, with up to 7 foot drifts.  There is some avalanche danger and possible icy layers, so this takes time.  The park is very unlikely to be open this weekend, and maybe not until late next week at the earliest.1/25/2019
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Crater Lake National ParkORSnow RemovalAfter 35 days of closure, time is needed to clear roadways, repair leaks, open restrooms and other facilities, check fire alarm systems, and ensure that the park is safe for visitors1/26/2019
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Olympic National ParkWADelayed Access Due to DamageDue to storm damage that occurred prior to the lapse of appropriations, many park roads and campgrounds remain closed. Park staff will start assessing damage, clearing downed trees and storm debris from roadways and campgrounds, and reopening areas as quickly as possible. 1/26/2019
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Yellowstone National ParkMT/WYPermit Backlogbacklog of permit requests, including from those seeking to do research in the park.1/26/2019
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Virgin Islands National ParkVIDelayed Restoration Nigel Fields, superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park, said donations kept the park mostly open during its busy tourist season. But, he said, there is some anxiety about another closure. The park covers about 60 percent of the island of St. John, which was hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The shutdown affected the park service's ability to continue rebuilding, strengthening the coral reef and restoring native vegetation after the storms.1/26/2019
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park
TNSeasonal Hiring DelayedVisitors may experience delayed openings this spring at some park campgrounds, picnic areas, and seasonal roads due to a reduced timeline for seasonal staff hiring and project planning. 1/28/2019
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Big Bend National ParkTXDelayed Access Due to DamageThere is NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING in Big Bend National Park at this time.
1/28/2019
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General Low morale and people considering retirement (and thus loss of expertise, mentoring, etc), political pressure to use fee money intended for important projects, stalling of maintenance projects, and general staff difficulty keeping up with the many pieces of getting back to business.1/28/19
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Death Valley National ParkCANatural resource damageOff-road vehicles damaging sensitive soils and threatening fossils. We have a historic site that somebody drove off-road and drove through. There are also some archaeological remains there as well, ruins that were driven over,” she said. “This was not in a backcountry area. This was right near a visitor center.” (Ranger Karen Jones)1/25
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Cumberland Island National Seashore
GABusiness harmThe Riverside Inn experienced significant threat to the health of their business with the closure of the ferry terminal during the shutdown.1/28
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Joshua Tree National ParkCA
Natural resource damage, FLREA funds
• The dramatic images of trash and overflowing toilets, etc from the first days of the shutdown were remediated almost immediately, by volunteers deeply familiar with the Park. This effort was initiated by climbers and affiliated businesses (outfitters, guides, gear merchants etc.) but was quickly joined by others in the community, and even some Park visitors on an impromptu basis.
• As of Friday the 25th, there were 13 miles of new off-road-vehicle trespass damage documented during the shutdown. Resources staff began working to disguise/ameliorate that damage during the shutdown, mainly by way of raking out the tire tracks. There's also been some vertical mulching efforts. Resources staff are hopeful that the rainfall we had during the raking days will help the cryptobiotic soil crusts grow back more quickly, but even so, that soil crust loss is damage whose self-repair timeframe is measured in decades. Since soil crusts protect soils from wind-driven erosion, this damage may in fact be permanent.
• Important items have been stolen from one highly visited historic site (Keys Ranch) during the shutdown, and thefts at the El Cid mine were still being investigated Friday to determine whether thefts of historic artifacts from that site were committed during the shutdown.
• Tagging/graffiti is a chronic issue at JOTR, and incidences seem to have increased during the shutdown, though I don't have any numbers. At least one rock art site was tagged, and NPS staff must wait for archaeologists to examine the damage before they can craft a plan to remove the spraypaint without damaging the rock art any more than it already has been. Not sure how long that will take.
• Staff has documented about 100 illegal campsites, some well off the pavement and apparently reached via OHV trespass, with new illegal firepits/ burn marks and areas stipped clean of vegetation that was apparently burned. Depending on what kind of vegetation, natural recovery could take anywhere from a decade (for cheesebush and four-winged saltbush) to never (for blackbrush).
• At least one of those illegal campsites was in a highly culturally sensitive area, and NPS staff are trying to determine whether artifacts in the area that seem to be missing were stolen during the shutdown (as opposed to being hidden by wind-driven sand or something similar)
• As a result of the order to use FLREA funds to pay for routine maintenance and law enforcement, the planned upgrade of the Cottonwood Visitor Center has been delayed by a year. Other FLREA projects haven't been delayed so far, but that may change if the shutdown returns.
1/29
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Grand TetonWYseasonal hiring resumeshiring for seasonal resumes. plowing and other efforts to return the park to full operations resume1/29
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Isle RoyaleMIscientific researchwolf study resumes with private funding ready if there is another shutdown1/29
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Joshua Tree National ParkCAfeesThe park lost an estimated $1 million in fee revenue collection during the course of the shutdown. They used approximately $200,000-$300,000 in fees to reopen the park and staff it.
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Joshua Tree National ParkCAstaffingJoshua Tree had been forced to operate with only 40% of its maintenance staff and 20% of its resource-management scientists.
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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
CAPartner ImpactsClosure of the Gateway to Nature in downtown Los Angeles, a key location that educated LA residents of public lands. Over the 35-day government shutdown, 90% of Western National Parks Association’s (WNPA) revenue generating operations were closed. This resulted in an estimated revenue loss of $900,000 dollars. Due to the devastating financial losses WNPA has been forced to make very difficult business decisions, including the decision to cut all expenses related to the Gateway to Nature and the elimination of the Center director position.The decision to cease Gateway to Nature operations was one of many organizational decisions, including the permanent elimination of 6 WNPA home office staff positions to help offset losses incurred during the shutdown.
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General - PartnerPartner ImpactsEastern National lost $1 million during the shutdown. They work in partnership with about 175 parks.
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Mesa Verde NPCODelayed access due to damageStaff still working from home. Road leading up to park completely impassible due to snowfall and boulder/rockfall. Not even visitor center near main road open at this point
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Florissant Fossil Beds NMCOStaffingMain thing flagged was new superintendent hiring delay.
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Colorado NMCOFee collectionMain thing flagged is that entrance fee collection will take a couple of days to be fully operational. The fee collection staff must reprogram cash registers and change signage to reflect entrance and camping fee increases that were scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2019
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Saguaro National Park AZWildfire Preparationfire staff missed physical fitness exams and had to cancel important professional development trainings that help their staff gain new skills and higher positions on the team. Now that the government is open, their goal is to fit in as much critical training as possible in the next few weeks.This is a key time of year for us to really prepare for the season ahead and make sure that we’re maintaining our qualifications, so that we’re able to respond to wildfires2/4/19
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Saguaro National Park AZDelayed HiringThe shutdown also held up the hiring process at Saguaro National Park and other federal lands. Jessica Gardetto, the spokesperson for the National Interagency Fire Center, said after a firefighter is hired it can take several weeks to properly train and prepare that person for wildfire season. That means the delay could have implications for the upcoming wildfire season.2/4/19
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