Yellowstone National Park announced Friday that it will start providing some basic services during the partial government shutdown by dipping into recreation fee revenue.
The park announced that starting Sunday it will be collecting trash, cleaning bathrooms and staffing entrance stations and the Madison Warming Hut, but not collecting entrance fees.
Previous to the park taking back some of these duties, concessioners, partners and local community groups were performing these duties since the shutdown began Dec. 22.
The park will also remove snow at Canyon overlooks to provide visitor access and improve safety.
Acting Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt announced Jan. 6 that the Park Service could use funds from entrance, camping, parking and other fees collected from visitors to provide assistance and services to highly visited parks during the shutdown. This fund is typically used for future parks projects.
“As the lapse in appropriations continues, it has become clear that highly visited parks with limited staff have urgent needs that cannot be addressed solely through the generosity of our partners,” P. Daniel Smith, deputy director of the National Park Service, said in a new release. “We are taking this extraordinary step to ensure that parks are protected, and that visitors can continue to access parks with limited basic services.”
When the shutdown was first announced, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks said certain services such as grooming and oversnow travel would continue. Guided snowmobile and snowcoach trips with commercial operators are still continuing in Yellowstone. Grooming for skiers continues in Grand Teton’s Teton Park Road.
“If conditions become unsafe at any time, roads and/or developed areas in the park may be closed,” the Yellowstone park news release said. “The park website and social media sites are not being maintained. All administrative offices, including the public affairs office, are closed until the government reopens.”
Smith said the park service will not be able to fully open parks, and many of the smaller sites around the country will remain closed.
“Utilizing these funds now will allow the American public to safely visit many of our nation’s national parks while providing these iconic treasures the protection they deserve,” he said.