After 16 days of government shutdown, the barriers at our national parks are down. With the government now open for business, the 715,000 park visitors that were being turned away daily can now enter and enjoy our national parks. This caused a loss of about $450,000 in direct revenue for NPS.
As visitors were turned away and NPS lost out on revenue, so did the local economies. Many of the local economies have been built around the national park in their area. According to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), $76 million in visitor spending was lost each day visitors were turned away.
CNPSR Chair Maureen Finnerty, former superintendent of Everglades and Olympic National Parks, was quoted in a CNPSR press release from October 10th saying, “These figures are mind boggling and they only begin to capture the full economic shock of locking up the crown jewels of America – our national parks. Towns, cities, and even whole states that depend on park tourism are feeling an increasingly strong pinch. And if Congress continues to hold our national parks hostage, these communities will soon be reeling from what is in many cases the main driver of their economies.”
Each fall we kick off our Buddy Bison environmental education program in 44 schools across the country. These programs are designed to enhance their science and history curriculum and outdoor recreation programs. We had trips planned for our students in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. National Aboretum, Anacostia Park canoeing on the Anacostia River, and National Fossil Day at the Smithsonian and the National Mall. The cancellation of Fossil Day not only prevented our trip, but it also postponed the shipment and unveiling of Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, named Wankel T. Rex, at the Museum of Natural History. Our students and the public will now have to wait to see the skeleton that is over 66 million years old. Only our Anacostia River trip was not cancelled since we were able to move our students to the Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Prince George’s County, MD.
The shutdown prevented some of our students from having national park experiences. Were you unable to visit a national park or federal public land? Tell us on Facebook.