National Parks Stay Open, Many Unstaffed

Published: Friday, January 4, 2019 - 6:15pm
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Laurel Morales/KJZZ
The National Park Service has a $12 billion backlog of repairs including a massive water pipeline project at the Grand Canyon.

The state of Arizona has just approved funds for another week at the Grand Canyon that will keep the park staffed with emergency and maintenance crews during the federal government shutdown. But other national parks have not been so lucky. 

Trash is piling up at Yosemite. Toilets are overflowing at Joshua Tree. Roads are jammed with snow at Mount Rainier. And visitors are still coming. The former director of the National Park Service Jonathan Jarvis said it’s like leaving the Smithsonian open unattended.

“Just leave it open,” Jarvis said. “People will behave themselves. It’ll be fine. I don't understand why we’d think the parks are going to be fine if we just leave them open.”

The national parks were set aside to protect ancient artifacts, endangered species and natural resources. Jarvis said that’s why during the last government shutdown he closed their gates.

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