On Oct. 2, the North Cascades National Park celebrated its 45th birthday alone as gates were closed due to a government shutdown.
The North Cascades is not alone. More than 400 parks, wildlife refuges, historical battlefields and national forests have been closed.
Just as the fall foliage season begins at Mount Rainier National Park, visitors will arrive at our nation’s parks greeted by closed gates and empty ranger stations. Last October, nearly 550,000 visitors trekked to Washington’s national parks. According to the National Park Service, without visitors traveling to our parks communities across the country lose out on $76 million each day.
Additionally, a majority of personnel from the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are out of work, halting many of our nation’s critical clean air and clean water programs. Despite this lack of environmental oversight, most public lands and waters remain open to oil, gas, and mining operations, further threatening the well-being of our treasured public lands.
Having the doors closed on “America’s best idea” is bad; keeping public lands and parks open to private mining and gas drilling companies is deplorable.
As field director for Environment Washington, I urge Congress to quickly pass a budget which restores funding to our parks and gives our agencies the resources they need to keep our air and water clean and our parks and forests protected from pollution and development.