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January 3, 2019 -
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The shutdown of the federal government is having a deep impact on thousands of workers in government agencies nationwide that provide vital services. Less noticed amid the ongoing political standoff is the impact of the maintenance and operations of hundreds of federal facilities and properties, including the nation’s national parks. The government shutdown has left America’s national parks largely unsupervised, according to The Washington Post. No one is at the gate. The visitor centers are closed. Some law enforcement and emergency personnel are on site, but certainly nothing as standard as a park ranger who can answer a question. Some parks across the country have remained partially operational with state funding. Contingency plans adopted by the National Park Service last year have allowed many national parks to remain accessible, but without staffing. The result is that “closed” parks are essentially wide open. One of the most dramatic repercussions of the shutdown arrived Wednesday, when the Smithsonian Institution, having depleted temporary funding, closed all of its museums and the National Zoo. In California, Joshua Tree National Park, with more than 792,000 acres, will remain open during the shutdown, but the National Park Service says its popular campgrounds closed at noon Wednesday, according to CNN. "The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity," the park service says.
Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and Facilitiesnet.com.