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Government Shutdown Forces Closure of Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks

Patch file photo by Guy McCarthy
Patch file photo by Guy McCarthy
The shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations has prompted the National Park Service to close all 401 national parks, including Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park, park officials announced Tuesday.

In Joshua Tree National Park, 92 employees are on furlough because of the shutdown and another 10 concessions employees are similarly affected, park officials said. Fifteen employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services. 

Park visitors in all overnight campgrounds and lodges have until 3 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday Oct. 3 to leave the park, Mark Butler, superintendent at Joshua Tree National Park, said in a statement.

All visitor facilities including Oasis, Joshua Tree, Cottonwood Visitor Centers, campgrounds and roads are closed, park officials said.

In addition, all park programs and special events have been canceled, including Keys Ranch tours for this weekend.

The park will remain closed until the government reopens.

"Joshua Tree National Park hosts 7000 visitors on average each day in October; nationally, more than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the National Park System," park officials said. "The park will lose an estimated $7645 of entrance fees each day of the shutdown."

Across the U.S., national parks stand to lose up to $450,000 per day in lost fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping, park official said.

"Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown," park officials said.

Nationwide the government shutdown has prompted furloughs more than 20,000 National Park Service employees, park officials said. About 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees are also affected.

"Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown," park officials said. "NPS.gov has more than 750,000 pages and 91 million unique visitors each year."

The following message appears on Death Valley National Park's website:

"Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating."

For updates on the shutdown, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park officials recommend www.doi.gov/shutdown.

Rebecca Berggren October 01, 2013 at 07:28 PM
We created a Plan B list for the Joshua Tree visitors blindsided by the National Parks shutdown. http://rockhouseretreat.weebly.com/1/post/2013/10/other-things-to-do-near-joshua-tree-national-park.html

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