Survey looks at impacts of shutdown on national parks

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Coalition to Protect America's National Parks has released a survey looking into the impacts of the recent government shutdown.

According to a release, the survey results were released along with a hearing before the Congressional House Appropriations Committee, which is looking into the National Park Service's use of recreational fee money to keep the parks open during the shutdown.

The release says the partial government shutdown negatively impacted park operations across the board, partially because the parks were kept open with insufficient staff.

The survey highlights delays in seasonal hiring, the interruption of contract work and research projects, and draining of entrance fee reserves and other consequences.

"While we are encouraged to have NPS employees back to work protecting our irreplaceable park resources, it is imperative that Congress fully examine the impacts of the partial government shutdown on our parks and hold the Trump administration accountable for this unprecedented damage," said CPANP Chair Phil Francis. "As uncertainty over government funding fuels speculation of another shutdown, our hardworking NPS employees deserve to know that lawmakers are working around the clock to make sure that their paychecks will keep coming as they embark on an extensive cleanup process."

The survey reached out to current national park employees and volunteers.

In Shenandoah National Park, problems included closed roadways due to snow, ice and downed trees that could not be cleaned up.

The park also used fee money to bring in maintenance employees to catch up on trash removal, restroom cleanup and rehabilitation of facilities.

SNP says some long-term projects that normally depend on those entrance fees may be at risk due to the money being used elsewhere.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway, regular park maintenance was not completed and road closure warning signs were not working in at least one place where the road was closed with physical barricades.

There was also a problem on the parkway's website, which could not be updated during the shutdown.

It showed the road was open, creating a risk of unsuspecting drivers crashing into barricades.

To see the full survey results, click on the link in the Related Links box.

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