National Parks Close Due to Federal Budget Impasse

Tuesday, October 01 2013 07:02   Other NPs
With Congress and President Obama failing to reach agreement on a new funding bill, on Oct. 1, 2013 the National Park Service began shutting down all parks and monuments, including those throughout the West.

The shutdown means that all national parks will be closed and secured, visitor centers and other facilities will be closed, education programs and special events will be canceled, and permits for special events will be rescinded.

grandcanyonvisitorcenterGuests staying in hotels and campgrounds will be notified of the closure and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park, according to the park service.

What will remain operational will be all law enforcement protection, including the U.S. Park Police and emergency and disaster assistance, firefighting and monitoring efforts, and border and coastal protection and surveillance.

There will be limited management of ongoing projects that are funded from nonlapsing appropriations, and the public will have access to through roads.

NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis issued an all employee memorandum on Sept. 30 detailing what the shutdown would mean for employees and park visitors.

"A shutdown means that most of our fellow employees will be furloughed for the duration," he wrote. "A small number of employees have been ‘excepted' from this furlough to secure parks and provide law enforcement, emergency services, firefighting, and other vital services. By now employees should have been notified by their supervisors as to whether they are excepted or not excepted.

"And if there is one thing that I ask you to understand - in a completely incomprehensible situation - it is that each and every one of you does important work," he added. "Being excepted or unexcepted has nothing to do with your value to this organization or our critical mission."

Unless exempted by their supervisors, park employees were told to report to work this morning to conduct shutdown activities. Employees had have up to four hours to complete timesheets, secure property and files, receive and acknowledge a furlough letter, update voicemail and leave an out-of-office message on email and other activities directed by their supervisor.

"I know that these are difficult times," he said. "A shutdown will disrupt our work and the lives of those who count on us - national park visitors who come to us for world-class educational and recreational experiences and communities across the country who rely on us for help to preserve their history and create healthy outdoor activities for their neighbors. It will also disrupt your lives and that of your families and for that I am sorry.

"You are the backbone of this organization," he added. "Your dedication to our mission is unquestioned and unrivaled. It is an honor to work with you. And I promise that we will get through this and return to work to serve the American people as we have for nearly 100 years."


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