Time is running out for lawmakers to agree on funding to avoid a government shutdown and with a looming shutdown, there could be massive disruptions to our national parks, monuments, and federal lands as well as permitting processes.
There will be broad impacts with any federal government shutdown but here are the possible major impacts to Travel & Outdoors:
Update 1/22/2018 @ 12:58 PM CST
Senate has reached compromise to end shutdown and it is expected that an agreement will be voted on by the Senate and passed by the House today.
Update 1/22/2018 9:00 am CST
We’re entering our 3rd day of the government shutdown and the National Park Services have been furloughed. Some parks are open, however, notices are up that closures can happen without notice and that there is no facilities management in operations – no restrooms, services, camping so on and so forth. It’s our recommendation that until the shutdown ends or National Park Services is funded that you find alternative plans.
Smithsonian and federal museums will remain open through the weekend but would close the following Monday.
Federal Lands & Parks
Federal lands will remain open. National Parks are said to remain open to the degree that the parks would not be staffed and anything that requires staffing and facilities management would be shutdown – including campsites, restrooms, and retail/concessions.
On top of park closures, travel may be impacted with difficulties of getting passports. If your passport facility is in a government building that building may be shutdown, otherwise as long as passport fees can sustain the office, services may remain.
In prior shutdowns all non-essential employees were furloughed which shutdown the National Zoo as well as NASA.
History of Shutdowns
If 2013 is any indication of how a 2018 shutdown would be then all federal parks may be closed. The National Park Services has stated that it is legally mandated to protect national park lands and without proper staffing to do so, the parks would be closed. The 2014 Contingency plan outlining this police is available here: https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/shutdown/fy2014/upload/NPS-contingency-plan.pdf
How does this impact our parks system? It’s estimated that the parks will lose over half a million dollars a day of income and untold lost revenues in cities, counties, and states where parks operate from losses in tourism.
During the shutdown of 2013 the parks were closed for 16 days – October 1st through 16th.
During 1995 The parks were closed for a total of 27 days in two different closures.
What if you’re at a National Park during the shutdown?
In 2013 the shutdown closed the parks and campers/visitors were given a two day grace period to leave. Some parks were shutdown so quickly that campers were told to leave by 8:00 PM the next day. We will update this post if any formal announcements/actions happen in 2018.
What if you’re planning to visit the National Parks during the government shutdown?
Based on results of 2013, I would currently advise to look for state park options or avoid National Parks. BLM lands and “backcountry” areas are said to remain open, but you should make sure to get all permits before shutdown as there will be no other way to get permits during the shutdown.
Call your representatives in Congress via the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the congressional office you request. Tell your representatives that you care about our national parks and want them open and fully funded, they are our parks.