Utah House Republicans request emergency action to open national parks

Utah

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File photo | EastIdahoNews.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Representatives Chris Stewart, Rob Bishop, and John Curtis contacted Acting Secretary Bernhardt Friday with a letter requesting the Department of the Interior allow normal operations to resume at Utah’s five national parks due to emergent need.

The Republican congressmen wrote specifically in regards to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

“The Antideficiency Act prohibits agencies from general operations in the absence of appropriations. The Act does make a critical exemption for ‘emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,’” the letter explained. “We believe, in the case of these national parks, public safety and property are at heightened risk, and therefore merit this exemption.”

According to the letter, park rangers and search and rescue personnel are called to respond to hundreds of emergency incidents in the parks throughout the year. Zion, even in the winter, has as many as 11,000 people visiting the park in a single day, according to the letter.

“Only a skeleton crew is left to protect and serve these thousands of visitors,” the letter acknowledged.

According to National Geographic, in addition to a lack of ability to help visitors if they face emergent situations, national parks are also confronted with a number of expensive problems resulting from the lack of attendance. Human sewage isn’t being cleaned up and monitored, and trash collects in the unmanaged trash cans and in surrounding areas.

Whenever the parks reopen, they face a lot of expenses and manpower needs in the aftermath of the government shutdown.

This article was first published by KSL.com. It is used here with permission.

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