An internal email sent to National Park Service (NPS) staff reveals for the first time that the parks lost between $10 million and $11 million during the 35-day partial government shutdown, which left a number of popular parks open but furloughed most rangers and staff.
The email strongly suggests the shutdown and its aftermath had a detrimental effect on the morale of park staff, and that lawyers are looking into whether it was legal for the Department of Interior to use “rec fees” to pay for maintenance and trash collection while parks such as Joshua Tree in California were kept open.
Parks resumed operations this past week, and the email makes clear the Park Service is scrambling to keep up morale while catching up on lost time.
“Our work has become increasingly stressful. For some, the shutdown was a much-needed relief, for others the shutdown added a new dimension of stress, anxiety, anger,” NPS regional fee manager Cindy David told Pacific West Region staff in an emailed two-part document Friday.
David’s email states that the parks lost between $10 million and $11 million in visitor fee revenue during the shutdown, the majority of which came from losses in high-revenue parks in California and Hawaii that are popular in winter months.
In addition to Joshua Tree, these parks include Yosemite and Muir Woods in California and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
“Most of these costs were in our region because we have big winter visitation parks that remained accessible to visitors at the start of the shutdown,” David wrote.