Grand Canyon avoids problems plaguing other parks during shutdown

Jan 2, 2019, 4:00 PM
(National Park Service Photo)...
(National Park Service Photo)
(National Park Service Photo)

PHOENIX — While other national parks have faced damaging behavior during the government shutdown — sometimes severe enough to force them to close — the Grand Canyon has avoided it due to an agreement that keeps it up and running.

The partial federal government shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, has forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees. This has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running.

Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration left parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs.

National parks including Joshua Tree and Yosemite in California have dealt with human feces, overflowing garbage, illegal off-roading and other problems that can harm fragile, natural areas.

Parts of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California have been forced to close due to overflowing trash bins posing a threat to wildlife and a lack of maintenance staff resulting in dangerously slick paths.

The Grand Canyon Protection Plan enacted in 2018 allows the canyon to stay open using transferred state funds, meaning that it can keep more staff on hand than other parks.

The state government and the U.S. Department of the Interior coordinate to keep trails, campsites, restrooms and shuttles open and continue trash removal and public safety services.

“The plan was a proactive effort by Gov. Ducey to ensure that when Washington can’t get its act together, visitors to the Grand Canyon aren’t negatively impacted,” Neil Large, Arizona State Parks and Trails spokesman, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

“The Grand Canyon will remain open and we welcome visitors to explore the beauty of Arizona.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Grand Canyon avoids problems plaguing other parks during shutdown