2018 – 19 National parks bracing for potential shutdown

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A park visitor enters Mushpot Cave at Lava Beds National Monument. Facing a potential government shutdown Saturday, Lava Beds Superintendent Larry Whalon says staff has a contingency plan.

Local national parks are prepared for the possibility of a government shutdown if Congress is unable to pass a spending bill by Friday.

Larry Whalon, superintendent for Lava Beds National Monument, said Thursday they are not expecting a shutdown, but have a contingency plan in place if a shutdown occurs.

Whalon said the park would remain open to visitors, however facilities such as bathrooms and other buildings would be closed until a funding bill is approved.

“Anything that would take park personnel to run would be closed,” he said.

Whalon said the only staff to remain at the park in the event of a shutdown would be law enforcement and minimal maintenance personnel to keep the water system working. Park rangers, search and rescue and EMS personnel would all be dismissed as of Saturday at 12:01 a.m.

Sean Denniston, acting superintendent for Crater Lake National Park, shared a statement Thursday from the Department of the Interior that said they expect a shutdown will be avoided. The statement acknowledged all national parks must be prepared for reduced staffing if a spending bill is not passed.

“The American public and especially our veterans who come to our nation’s capital will find war memorials and open air parks open to the public,” said the department.

Similar to Lava Beds, Crater Lake would remain open during a shutdown, while park buildings would be closed due to a lack of staffing. In light of recent precipitation at Crater Lake, visitors should check for road closures before visiting.

As of press time Thursday, a spending bill preventing a shutdown had yet to be passed.

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