Group Pledges Funding to Clean Facilities at Shenandoah National Park

Mark Ralston  AFP  Getty Images

Mark Ralston AFP Getty Images

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) stipulates that fees charged by federal parks are created to fund services for visitors - not the maintenance of parks.

Across the country, dozens of their colleagues in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association were doing the same at national parks closed or partially closed by the shutdown.

"It's hard to see why allowing parks to tap fee revenue to keep popular parks open during a government shutdown would be anything other than a sensible policy - and one that is largely consistent with the origins of the current National Park Service fee program", Regan said.

We're now in the third week of the partial shutdown of the federal government, and national parks across the country are feeling the effects.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a New Mexico Democrat and new chairman of the House Resources Committee, was quoted in the Washington Post questioning the legality of using the maintenance funds for operations.

On Sunday, the National Park Service released a statement that they will be pulling from the funds derived from entrance, camping, parking and other miscellaneous park fees to put towards staffing of select parks, although which parks and the amount of money has yet to be specified. The agency, however, said it will still not be able to fully open parks and that many will remain closed.

The Washington Post first reported the shift in Park Service policy, including questions about the legality of tapping into the fee collections.

With park services lacking funding to keep parks clean, Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica have spent their days hiking the mountain trails with trash bags in hand so they can pick up litter along the way. The agency said previously that it would seek to keep parks "as accessible as possible" during the funding lapse. "The longer we kick the can down the road, the more it will cost", Dabbs said.

The Montana Republican had written to Bernhardt the previous day seeking an adjustment to the Interior Department's implementation of the shutdown at National Park Services sites. "For those parks that don't collect fees, they will now be in the position of competing for the same inadequate pot of money to protect their resources and visitors".

"The government shutdown means that our lovely national parks are overflowing with trash", the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association said in a Twitter statement on Friday, calling for people to join Muslim youth in cleaning up national parks.

My thoughts were overwhelmed by these stories as I drove out to Joshua Tree National Park this weekend, anxious as to what I was going to see during this national park "free-for-all".

"The national parks are a treasure". On Sunday, Mount Rainier National Park announced that it was closing motor vehicle access beyond the park entrance because its main concession operator had stopped picking up trash and cleaning the bathrooms, and because snow was starting to accumulate.

"I am grateful for the quick response to our letter and the extraordinary steps the Department is taking to ensure our Utah Parks are protected and open for visitors", Stewart said in a statement.

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