The National Parks Service has been forced to dip into their entrance fees to maintain and monitor the parks.
Due to the fact that the partial government shutdown is still in effect, the National Parks Service has been given permission by the acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to dip into their entrance fees for funds to maintain restroom cleanliness, clean up the trash, and patrol the parks — and in some special cases, bring in workers.
As for the national parks, however, visitors are still going to the parks, using the restrooms, and adding garbage to the overflowing trash bins. Some volunteers have been stepping in to help with cleanup there, too:
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association gathered volunteers to help out in California, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and the Everglades — way to go, you guys!
Courtesy of NowThis Future
Father-daughter duo Marc and Erika Newland decided to pick up trash in the Great Smoky Mountains during their hike!
Courtesy of CBS News
How the Funds Will Be Used
According to WTOP, 80 percent of national park entrance fees go to the individual park while the remaining 20 percent goes to the federal fund. It is considered illegal for the parks to use their entrance fees to clean up the parks since that funding is strictly used for visitor services — Once that money is gone, it’s gone. The National Parks Service collected $199 million in entrance fees during the 2016 fiscal year; how much of that will be used towards the current dilemma is not known.
Because of the shutdown, the parks are not currently collecting entrance fees, which will obviously affect their cash flow. Not knowing how much income will end up being lost, the parks are considering raising entrance fees to make up for it later on.
Since the time of the shutdown, the National Parks Service has reached out and made deals with 60 partner groups, concessionaires, and states to try and get a handle on the trash pickup, restroom maintenance, and other basic tasks. Sadly that was not enough.
The entrance of Blue Ridge Parkway National Park is closed indefinitely due to an ice storm that hit the area in November — It’s covered with debris and ice and will not be cleared for a while until the government reopens. Despite the road being blocked off, locals are still visiting the park but are advised to take extreme caution. Other parks have been reporting closures, as well — Joshua Tree National Park is closing its doors due to tree damage.
Other major national parks like Yosemite are still experiencing high volumes of trash and human waste buildup — hopefully, the parks don’t take too big of a hit.
Have you done anything in your community to help out with the cleanup? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re a furloughed government employee, you can head to one of these D.C. restaurants for a free lunch.