OUR PARKS ARE IN TROUBLE
END THE SHUTDOWN
A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
FROM PARKS PROJECT
Like you, we've witnessed our National Parks become a casualty of the latest government shutdown, and it breaks our collective heart. With park staff unavailable to maintain and protect park resources, National Parks and other federal lands around the country are in a crisis. Fragile ecosystems are being damaged. Trashcans and bathrooms are overflowing. Scientific research has been stymied. At times like this, it is easy to feel helpless. Here are some things you can do:
1. Contact the White House and demand an end to the shutdown. Our parks need funding and support.
CONTACT THE WHITE HOUSE
2. To avoid further strain on resources, please do not visit National Parks during the shutdown. Consider visiting state or local parks instead.
3. If you feel compelled to visit a National Park, be prepared to pack out all waste, including your poop. Practice Leave No Trace principles to protect plant and animal life.
VISIT LEAVE NO TRACE
4. If you see illegal activity (camping, hunting, vandalism, etc.), report it to law enforcement.
5. After the shutdown is over, volunteer your time to clean up and restore areas damaged during the shutdown.
6. Consider donating to a non-profit park partner, such as the National Park Foundation.
VISIT NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
WE'VE RECEIVED MANY INQUIRIES OVER THE LAST WEEK ABOUT THE SHUTDOWN'S EFFECT ON OUR PARKS AND HOW YOU CAN HELP.
HERE ARE THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why are the parks remaining open?
Historically, parks have closed during government shutdowns. However, during the last government shutdown, Ryan Zinke (former Secretary of the Interior), outlined a policy that advised parks to remain open during the shutdown, setting a new policy precedent.
Why aren't Park Rangers and staff working?
Park staff is prohibited from working during the shutdown, as most of those positions are considered "nonessential" by the government. Per the Antideficiency Act, Park Rangers or other park staff that have been furloughed during a shutdown could get fined or jailed for entering their workplaces. They can also be fined or jailed for volunteering for something that they are normally paid to do (meaning that they aren’t even able to volunteer their help).
When can I volunteer in the parks?
Due to the fragile ecosystems of our parks, volunteer projects need to be overseen by official park staff. Once the shutdown ends, rangers will need an opportunity to assess the amount of damage and prioritize what needs to be done. We will post information on volunteer opportunities once the information is accessible to us.
How can I donate to help restore the damage that has been done during the shutdown?
We recommend donating to the official non-profit of the National Parks, The National Park Foundation. They have created a Parks Restoration Fund to provide parks and partners with much-needed resources just as soon as the shutdown comes to an end.
Will purchasing your products help the parks?
Yes. Each purchase on our website supports a project in a park. Check each product page for details about the specific park or organization that product supports.
How do I contact the government to end the shutdown?
Comments can be submitted to executive branch via the White House contact page. You can also send a message to acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt requesting to close down National Parks during the shutdown to protect park resources. The Senate has yet to hear a vote on appropriations to re-open the government- you can contact your Senator via the USA.gov address book.
Why are people still visiting the parks during the shutdown?
National Parks have had increasing visitation over recent years, seeing 1.5 Billion visits over the last 5 years. Many visitors plan their trips months or years in advance, and don't want to alter their long-standing vacation plans. Tourists, especially international tourists, may not have complete information on park closures and may be unwilling or unable to change pre-arranged itineraries.
Why do the parks need to be protected?
The mission statement of the National Park Service is to preserve "unimpaired the natural and cultural resources" of our parks. National Parks protect endangered species, fragile ecosystems, and complex wilderness environments. In many areas, they represent islands of biodiversity and protection in our increasingly developed lands. In a world so dramatically altered by humans, human protection and management is needed to preserve these special places for future generations.
Do you have questions, thoughts, or stories about the government shutdown and how it's impacted the parks? We want to hear them. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM us at @ParksProject on Instagram.
Check out our special edition of Park Pulse, covering news stories related to the government shutdown's effects on our parks.
-The Parks Project Crew
Please feel free to share this page on your social media: