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Politicizing Public Parks

Posted on Oct 1, 2013 by in News |

National Parks Close – Illegal for Citizens to Walk National Mall

Alicé Leuchte | October 1, 2013

National parks and memorials will be closed under government shutdown.  This includes some 368 parks operated by the National Park Service across the country.  The Arizona Daily Star reported that:

The Interior Department announced its shutdown plans Friday, saying it would close all national parks and give guests at hotels in national parks two days to make other plans and leave. The Park Service will keep a small number of employees on the clock, according to its contingency plan.

The Department of Interior is responsible for many hot destinations, which fuel the tourism industry – and some states may be hit harder than others.  For example, Arizona could lose millions in tourist revenue as popular destinations (like the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forrest) will not be available for travelers.

USA Today thought of another aspect: weddings.  Many people have booked national parks and memorials (like in Washington DC) for their special moment, but if their date falls during the shutdown, they may have to relocate their services.

Among event scheduling inconveniences, basic services Americans have become accustomed to when visiting a national park may be discontinued.  Specifically in the nation’s capital:

Barricades would block Jefferson and Madison drives, the roads that flank the Mall, and some of the memorials themselves. Public restrooms will be locked. Even the fountains that grace the parks will go dry, she said. Trash pickup at federal park properties will be suspended…

The Blaze pointed out that under this closure, it is technically illegal for private citizens to walk the National Mall:

NPS Spokeswoman Carol Johnson told TheBlaze Monday the entire National Mall would legally close to the public during a shutdown, but admitted it would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce…. A spokesperson for the National Parks Police did not return multiple requests for comment made by TheBlaze to see if individuals would be cited for walking on the mall.

While monuments will close and services discontinued, basic law-enforcement and other ‘essential’ activities will be unaffected.  In the Interior’s 2011 contingency plan, they state that a limited number of staff will be retained to “protect life and property,” and that contracted projects may also continue.

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